NIKITA DHAWAN

Hi, I'm Nikita, and I'm 16 years old. As founder of 'Youth for Animals', I have been raising awareness for animal issues and striving to inspire youth action. 

While my compassion for animals took root in early childhood, my passion for animal activism initiated when I encountered Shankar, an African elephant who has been in solitary confinement at the Delhi zoo for almost two decades.

I remember watching Shankar sway side-to-side in distress, overwhelmed by the blaring sounds of trains and applauding children, who, ironically, believed the elephant was dancing with joy due to the onset of the Indian monsoons. Moved by Shankar’s dismal condition, I became determined to be a voice for Shankar and all other animals who suffer from human exploitation. Leading a campaign for Shankar’s rescue and rehabilitation, I filed a legal petition in Delhi High Court to challenge his confinement. I hope Shankar can soon explore the world on his terms with his own kind one day.

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, and I would perhaps like to extend this vision to realize “personhood” for non-human animals. Moreover, I strongly support the organization’s mission to recognize 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.

A photo of a young girl standing in a forest

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