Born Free USA
Born Free USA aims to end the human exploitation of wild animals.
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Keeping Wildlife in the Wild
Born Free USA aims to end the human exploitation of wild animals. The organization seeks to increase the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats, while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Promoting Compassionate Conservation, Born Free USA protects wild animals, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world.
Photo: Born Free USA
Photo: Born Free USA
Born Free USA manages the largest primate sanctuary in the United States. The 175-acre sanctuary, located in south Texas, provides a safe, permanent home to more than 450 monkeys, many rescued from abuse in roadside zoos or as pets in private homes or retired from scientific research. The Born Free USA facility is unique among U.S. sanctuaries in that it is one of the very few to provide large, multi-acre free-ranging environments that allow the majority of the monkeys to live as natural a life as possible with minimal human interference.
Terra Conservation will provide the sanctuary with sustainable technology that will help reduce the sanctuary’s carbon footprint, allowing more funds to go directly to supporting the monkeys rather than to sanctuary maintenance. Your contributions will help secure container farms to grow food for the monkeys and electric vehicles to help sanctuary staff navigate the multi-acre facility.
Photo: Born Free USA
Project Details & Background: Combatting Wildlife Trafficking
Born Free USA’s global team seeks to end the exploitation of wild animals for the pet trade, as decorations, or in wet markets where wildlife is sold for food or medicine. Live animals, their body parts, and products made from animals are shipped and sold across the world for major profits. According to the 2019 Global Biodiversity Assessment, the decline of the natural world is “unprecedented in human history” with a million species at risk of extinction. The extraction of wild animals for the wildlife trade is a significant part of this decline and is identified as the second most important driver of biodiversity loss, behind changes in land and sea use.
Closing wildlife markets will also have a positive impact on human health. Addressing the cause of the current pandemic – wildlife trade – is critical to protecting global public health from similar outbreaks in the future. COVID-19 is an example of a zoonotic disease – an illness that can spread from animals to humans. This new strain of coronavirus is thought to have passed from animals to humans at an exotic animal market. Animals are trafficked to these markets from across the globe and include pangolin species, civets, snakes, bats, and baby crocodiles, among many others. The World Health Organization estimates that 60 percent of all human infectious diseases are zoonoses and around 75 percent of infectious diseases that have affected people over the past three decades originated from wild animals, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and HIV.
Terra Conservation is supporting Born Free USA’s efforts to combat the wildlife trade by promoting public awareness and helping to broaden support for Born Free USA’s global efforts. Your contributions will help secure the necessary funds to augment anti-wildlife trade programs in the United States and Africa.
Born Free USA has a multipronged effort to reduce the wildlife trade and end the illegal trade of wildlife.
- Enforcement support. Born Free USA conducts trainings and workshops to strengthen capacity for combatting wildlife crime in West and Central Africa. This includes training customs and enforcement officers, strengthening collaboration among authorities, and working to better understand and address the challenges faced by West and Central African governments.
- Reports and investigations. Born Free USA publishes reports and investigations to inform decision-makers and the public about wildlife trade and its impacts.
- International conferences. To advocate for vulnerable species, Born Free USA participates in inter-governmental conferences and meetings relevant to the protection of species heavily targeted by wildlife crime, such as those of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Born Free advocates to secure stronger protection of endangered and threatened species while supporting national authorities in their initiatives to strengthen species protection and fight wildlife crime.
- Raising public awareness. Support from the public is a vital component of the fight against wildlife crime. Born Free USA leads various initiatives to raise public awareness about the impact of wildlife trafficking, the species that are the most heavily affected by it, and the urgent need to enforce the laws protecting them.
Born Free USA runs programs in the United States, Canada, and Africa. In Africa, Born Free USA focuses on fighting wildlife crime in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
In addition to managing the primate sanctuary and fighting the global wildlife trade, Born Free USA also protects wildlife through its signature programs, including:
Animals in Captivity: Every year, millions of exotic animals are captured from the wild or bred in captivity for commercial profit or human amusement, only to languish in conditions that fail to meet their instinctive behavioral and physical needs. These animals include those held in captivity in facilities such as roadside zoos, circuses, and aquariums; those kept in private possession, as “pets”; and animals used in interactive displays, such as for photo ops and rides. Born Free USA aims to prohibit the private possession of exotic animals through legislation, law enforcement, and public education. We work with lawmakers and alongside other animal protection organizations to advocate for laws to put an end to wild animal captivity and to improve conditions for captive wildlife. We provide resources to educate on how exotic pet ownership deprives the animal of the conditions necessary to meet their instinctive behavioral and physical needs.
Trapping and Fur: Indiscriminate body-crushing traps are used to capture or kill furbearing animals who are deemed a “nuisance” or who are valued only for the fur on their backs. Types of traps include snares, a wire noose that can cause trapped animals to slowly strangle to death, and leghold traps, in which animal may chew off his own paw to escape, only to die days later from the injury. Millions of animals fall victim to traps each year, causing untold suffering and death for many of the creatures, not all of whom were targeted by the trappers. Dogs, cats, endangered species, and even humans can be caught traps. Born Free USA seeks to end the use of body-gripping traps in the U.S., with emphasis on banning trapping in National Wildlife Refuges and in state and local areas as opportunities arise. We aim to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur fashions through consumer education and attitude changes among retailers. We maintain a Trapping Incidents Database to educate the public and legislators about the vast number of cases happening around the country. Born Free USA also manages the Trapping Victims’ Fund to assist human and pet victims of traps.
Photo by Don Debold
Endangered Species Act: The Endangered Species Act is America’s most powerful wildlife conservation and protection law, responsible for saving some 99 percent of listed species from extinction. The ESA is administered by two federal agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its primary purpose is to conserve endangered and threatened species and their ecosystems. Born Free USA defends the Endangered Species Act by advocating against legislation and policies that seek to weaken it and by educating the public about the importance and effectiveness of this crucial law.
The Wildlife Warriors
Angela Grimes is Born Free USA’s Chief Executive Officer and has been with the organization since 2010. Prior to Born Free USA, Angela was Executive Director & Chief Operations Officer of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, a wildlife sanctuary and rescue center. Angela currently serves on the national Board of Directors for EarthShare, a federation of leading environmental organizations. She has also served as Chair of Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary, EarthShare of Texas, and Chicago Chorale as well as Vice President of the Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Housing Corporation. Angela graduated from Drake University with a degree in English. She speaks French and Spanish. Angela is based in Chicago, Illinois and shares her home with four rescued cats.
Africa Policy & Capacity Building Director
Alice’s focus is developing the ability of African governments to fight wildlife crime and building consensus between African countries to conserve shared resources and implement international agreements. She is a French lawyer specialized in international, environmental, and natural resources law with more than a dozen years of experience leading Africa-based capacity building programs. Prior to joining Born Free in 2015, Alice served as the coordinator of the Francophone Africa Bureau of the Species Survival Network, an international coalition of more than 100 non-governmental organizations committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Alice also served as acting Secretariat and advisor to the African Elephant Coalition. Alice has an LL.M in natural and environmental resources law from Lewis and Clark Law School, a D.E.A. (Diploma in Advanced Studies) from the University of Paris XI, and a Master’s Degree in International and European Law from the University of Amiens, France. She is bilingual in English and French.
Dr. Liz Tyson
Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary Director, Dr. Liz Tyson has helped animals across the globe in the UK, Colombia, Spain, the Middle East, Bolivia, Ethiopia, and Peru. She is a UK native and began her career in the animal world as an Education Officer and Primate Keeper at a monkey sanctuary on the south coast of England. She subsequently helped to establish the very first locally-run sterilization program for street dogs in the Middle East, worked with indigenous communities in the Colombian Amazon to end the hunting of wild primates, ran a UK charity campaigning to end the exploitation of animals in circuses and zoos, and helped design a new rehabilitation complex for rescued monkeys at Born Free’s sanctuary in Ethiopia, Ensessa Kotteh. In 2018, she earned her doctorate in Animal Welfare Law.