Meet nikita dhawan, our new youth ambassador

23 February 2022


Nikita, who lives in New Delhi India, has been passionate about making a positive change for wild animals since early childhood. 

We are delighted to announce that 16-year-old high school student Nikita Dhawan has been unveiled Born Free’s latest Youth Ambassador. The prestigious role recognises her work raising awareness of the plight of captive animals and engaging and educating young people about wildlife conservation.

Nikita, who lives in New Delhi India, has been passionate about making a positive change for wild animals since early childhood. She is the co-founder of ‘Youth for Animals’ a not-for-profit organisation which promotes animal welfare and is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Education & Communication.

Nikita has already made headlines around the world with her fearless campaign for the rescue and rehabilitation of an African elephant named Shankar from a Delhi zoo. She was compelled to act after seeing the 26-year-old-elephant swaying in distress in his solitary enclosure. She hopes her campaign and online petition will soon see Shankar released and given a life among his own kind, as well as bringing attention to the wider issue of the human exploitation of animals. 

As a Youth Ambassador Nikita joins prominent young conservation voices Bella Lack, Katie Marshall and Ayan Kamath Mehra all of whom embody the spirit of Born Free and support the charity’s mission to ‘Keep Wildlife in the Wild’. 

Nikita says: “I am honoured to be inducted as a Youth Ambassador, I hope to amplify my voice ‘for’ animals using Born Free’s incredible platform to reach a diverse audience. My views on animal captivity align seamlessly with Born Free’s ethos. I strongly support the organisation’s mission to recognise the critical role animals play in balancing the ecosystem. In fact, through my role at Born Free, I would like to aid in spreading awareness that wildlife protection and rewilding efforts can help mitigate the impending climate crisis and restore our planet”.

Virginia McKenna OBE & Will Travers OBE, Born Free’s Co-Founders, added: “Each individual wild animal is important. Each one has feelings, can suffer, and can experience many of the emotions that, for a long time, we thought exclusively belonged to humans. The elephant whose death at the London Zoo in 1983 inspired the creation of the Born Free Foundation, Pole Pole, proved to us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that an elephant never forgets. So, we must not forget Shankar, the lone elephant currently confined in Delhi Zoo. That is why we are delighted that Nikita Dhawan has stepped up and is championing his cause. Her compassion and determination to help this unfortunate individual, will inspire others and bring about positive change. We are so thrilled that Nikita is joining Born Free as a Youth Ambassador. She represents a new generation, with new ideas and new thinking. She is a symbol of hope for a better, kinder world!”

Born Free’s Youth Ambassadors work with the charity to realise Born Free’s mission by growing brand awareness through peer to peer communications and, as influencers, engaging their personal networks, educating audiences, supporting calls to action, promoting appeals and events and bringing the youth perspective to Born Free’s strategy and decision making.

In addition, this programme offers opportunities for young people to engage with our work, while learning about wildlife and gaining skills to support future careers – either in conservation/animal welfare or as wildlife champions within other industries.

Ambassadors are selected from within our most engaged supporters and is limited to four Junior and four Youth Ambassadors at any one time.

Laura Gosset, Head of Education at Born Free concluded: “We are honoured to welcome Nikita, a passionate and compassionate advocate for individual animals, to Born Free’s Youth Ambassador programme. Nikita is already a resounding voice for wildlife, and we hope this programme offers a further opportunity to stand up, as a role model for others”.