Born Free Foundation

The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity that campaigns to "Keep Wildlife in the Wild".[1] It protects wild animals in their natural habitat, campaigns against the keeping of wild animals in captivity and rescues wild animals in need. It also promotes compassionate conservation,[2] which takes into account the welfare of individual animals in conservation initiatives.

Born Free Foundation
Founded19 March 1984; 37 years ago (1984-03-19)
FoundersVirginia McKenna, Bill Travers, Will Travers
FocusCompassionate conservation
Area served

Born Free's head office is located in Horsham, West Sussex, in south east England. It also has offices in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa, with representatives in Sri Lanka and Australia.

In the year to 31 March 2017, the charity reported income of £4.3m.[3]


In 1969, actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, who starred in the film Born Free, made the film An Elephant Called Slowly. This featured an elephant calf called Pole Pole who was given to London Zoo when filming finished.

In 1982, McKenna and Travers went to visit Pole Pole at London Zoo. After seeing her, they launched a campaign to get Pole Pole moved to somewhere more suitable and with other elephants for company. In 1983, it was agreed to move Pole Pole to Whipsnade Zoo, but following complications during the transfer, Pole Pole died.[4]

Her death deeply affected McKenna and Travers, so in 1984 they launched Zoo Check with their eldest son Will Travers OBE.[5] Zoo Check was renamed Born Free Foundation in 1991.

Virginia is currently a Trustee of Born Free and Will is Executive President.[6]

Current workEdit

Born Free manages or funds projects in more than 20 countries worldwide – across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.[7] It focuses on 'nine working priorities': captive wild animal exploitation; trophy and canned hunting; wildlife trade; rescue, care, rehabilitation & release; human-wildlife co-existence and conservation; integrated wildlife protection; transboundary programmes; UK wildlife protection; and education.[8] Born Free has also partnered with organisations such as British Airways,[9] Kingspan,[10] and Orion Children's Books[11] to assist in its goals.

It also has its own sanctuaries – two big cat rescue centres at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in South Africa, Ensessa Kotteh Wildlife Rescue, Conservation & Education Centre, in Ethiopia,[12] and Bannerghatta tiger sanctuary, in India.[13]

Current projectsEdit

The conservation projects Born Free supports or operates are:

The wildlife rescue and care projects Born Free supports or operates are:

  • Ngamba Island, Uganda
  • Limbe Wildlife Centre,[21] Cameroon
  • Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Malawi
  • Zambia Primate Project,[22] Zambia
  • Arcturos, Greece
  • Animals Asia, Vietnam
  • Sangha Lodge,[23] Central African Republic
  • Wildlife Emergency Response Unit, Malawi
  • Orphan Bear Rescue Centre, Russia
  • Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, South Africa


  1. ^ "International Animal Welfare and Conservation Charity". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  2. ^ Marris, Emma (26 September 2018). "When Conservationists Kill Lots (and Lots) of Animals". The Atlantic. ISSN 1072-7825. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Born Free trustee annual reports". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Pole Pole Remembered". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Elsa the Lioness: The Spirit of Born Free on World Lion Day". National Geographic Society Newsroom. 9 August 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Meet our UK team". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  7. ^ "WHERE WE WORK - The countries we work in here at Born Free". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  8. ^ "About Born Free: International animal charity". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  9. ^ "British Airways Holidays and the Born Free Foundation". British Airways. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Lion Conservation Partnership with the Born Free Foundation". Kingspan. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  11. ^ "OCB signs deal with Born Free Foundation". The Bookseller. 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Our work at Ensessa Kotteh Wildlife Rescue". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Bannerghatta Tiger Sanctuary in India". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Meru Lion Heritage Project in Kenya". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Predator-proof Boma Project Amsboseli in Kenya". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Grauer's Gorilla Conservation in Congo". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  17. ^ "The Conservation of the Western Chimpanzee & Other Primates". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  18. ^ "The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  19. ^ "JAGUARS IN THE FRINGE". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Orangutan Foundation". Born Free Foundation. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  22. ^ "ZAMBIA PRIMATE PROJECT - One of Africa's most successful..." Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  23. ^ "SANGHA LODGE". Archived from the original on 3 December 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2019.

External linksEdit