Animals in isolation


Many animals in zoos, circuses and dolphinaria suffer in lockdown every day. They’re trapped thousands of miles from their natural habitats, stripped of a life in the wild and locked up for life. Here’s three real-life examples of wild animals in permanent lockdown… and one we were able to rescue.


Twiggy is the solitary Asian elephant at Belgrade Zoo in Serbia. 

She was captured from the wild in India, as an infant, and brought to Britain. After more than 20 years of being transferred between several British zoos and one in the Netherlands, Twiggy arrived in Serbia in 1990. She has lived alone since 1997.

In Twiggy’s small enclosure, there is a clear path worn into the ground showing the area she walks over and over repeatedly.



Lolita is an orca who has been at Miami Seaquarium since she was captured from the wild in 1970. 

During her first decade of captivity, she was kept with another wild-caught orca named Hugo but following his death in 1980, Lolita has existed in isolation from her own kind for 40 years, in what is known to be the smallest orca tank in the US.



Bua Noi is the solitary gorilla at Pata Zoo in Bangkok, Thailand. She has lived at the zoo, which is situated on the top floor of a department store, for over 30 years. 

She is believed to have been captured from the wild in Guinea as an infant and was transferred to Pata Zoo in 1987. She did have a male companion for 20 years, but following his death in 2007, Bua Noi has been alone. 

Her cage is made of concrete and metal bars with just a few braches, ropes, a hanging tyre and little in the way of natural daylight. She is often seen just staring, whilst sat clinging to the bars of her cage.



Sadly, we cannot always say yes to rescuing every wild animal, but in some cases we can.

Rhea the leopard was born in Limassol Zoo, Cyprus in 1998. Born Free investigations revealed terrible living conditions for many of the animals at the zoo during the 1990s and after persistently calling on the Cypriot and local authorities, some improvements were eventually made. 

In 2009, Born Free was able to rehome Rhea to our big cat sanctuary in Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa, along with her sister and mother, having spent 11 years living in a small, concrete and iron-barred cage.

At our sanctuary, she lives in a large, natural bush enclosure where she has the privacy to hide and explore.

And here is Rhea today…



Born Free is committed to preventing animal suffering and protecting threatened species in their natural habitats. We strongly oppose the exploitation and keeping of wild animals in captivity and campaign to Keep Wildlife in the Wild. We work to end any activities that negatively impact wild animals living in captivity. With your help, we can do more.

Watch our new animation Creature Discomforts: A Lifetime in Lockdown and see how we have used people’s experience of lockdown to highlight the lives of wild animals forced to live under lock and key.