No pressies please!

Today, we celebrate our remarkable Co-Founder & Executive President Will Travers OBE’s birthday. But this year, as Will explains, he ‘just’ wants elephants (and all wild animals) to be safe.

A young elephant calf leans in towards its mother for protection

A wild elephant and calf (c) George Logan

Goodness me – where did the year go??

My birthday today means I will be more than 64, but less than 66! Wow!!

A headshot of Will Travers OBE

Will Travers OBE

And what a time to be alive. The planet and human society in such turmoil – and species under pressure as never before. Got to stay positive!

I am Born Free through and through so, to anyone who asks, I absolutely don’t want anything for myself this birthday. What I want is to make things better for animals and people.

If you have a few pounds to spare, let me direct you towards Born Free’s work for elephants – elephants in zoos (poor souls) and elephants in the wild where, at least in some places, the slaughter has been stopped and numbers are solidly in recovery. If you can, please do consider supporting our latest appeal, offering Hope for Elephants.


In zoos, the general misery continues. Over 500 elephants held captive throughout Europe alone. More than thirty, living on their own (imagine). At best they have a few acres, maybe the companionship of other elephants (often unrelated). Compare that to the complex, rich and stimulating lives they live in the wild, part of extended multi-generational families, led by a matriarch, able to choose how to live their lives for themselves, not have the pattern of their existence dictated to them.

In the wild, as I say, in some places numbers are rising. In Kenya, from a low point of just over 16,000 wild elephants in 1989, there are now over 36,000 elephants, nurtured and protected by the famous Kenya Wildlife Service and supportive organisations like Born Free, dedicated to reducing conflict and encouraging co-existence.

I saw my first wild elephant as a young child (aged six when my mother, Virginia, and my late father, Bill, were in Kenya making the film Born Free. I can never forget that experience.

The sight of an elephant in a zoo brings me no joy but deep sorrow. Remarkably, it’s not only Born Free that’s calling for a compassionate and humane end to the keeping of elephants in zoos – the UK’s biggest keeper of elephants has decided to send the elephants in his care to Africa to be rewilded. If you haven’t seen our new animated film about the plight of elephants in zoos, you can do so by clicking on the button below.


And if you’d like to help people instead, my JustGiving page has details of the reason why the Born Free team in Ethiopia, looking after our rescued lions, cheetah and many other animals, need some extra, with inflation running at over 30%.


Yes, it’s really tough out there but, for my birthday, why not spread a little happiness. Thank you very much indeed.