Conservation Influencers

Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute


Launched in 2002, Born Free USA is managed by the UK-based Born Free Foundation (BFF). Its core mission is to keep wildlife in the wild. According to BFF, Born Free USA also raises awareness about the plight of captive wild animals in zoos, circuses, or those kept as exotic pets, and it lobbies the US government regarding wildlife issues.

In 2007 Born Free USA subsumed the Animal Protection Institute (API), which had developed a longstanding relationship with the BFF. This brought under its domain API’s 175-acre primate sanctuary, which looks after around 400 monkeys in Texas. According to Dr. Liz Tyson, Director of Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary, her NGO opposes ‘the exploitation of wild animals for human gain’. But being opposed to the consumptive use of wildlife, or the use of wildlife for human gain, makes Born Free USA’s views incompatible with CITES’ principles, as set out in the Washington Convention.

Born Free USA’s position paper for CITES’ CoP-18 urged parties to adopt a highly precautionary approach to wildlife protection, particularly with regards to African and Asian wildlife threatened by, what it called, ‘unsustainable [read legal] and illegal trade’. To this end, Born Free USA supported an unsuccessful effort to place the long-extinct Woolly Mammoth in appendix I. It also supported successful calls to reject CoP-18 proposals 10 & 11, which would have enabled commercial trade in various elephant products from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. And it supported CoP18 proposal 12, which called, unsuccessfully, for the transfer of the elephants of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to Appendix I. 


Born Free USA has a 17-strong staff led by CEO Angela Grimes, who is also on the board of EarthShare, a national network composed of 500 non-profit partners.


Born Free USA’s Board of Directors is chaired by the retail magnate Sean Cassidy. The Board’s president and treasurer is Will Travers


According to the 2019 Independent Auditors’ Report, Born Free USA’s annual revenue was USD 2,248,114, mostly from grants, contributions and bequests. Born Free USA’s functional expenses were USD 2,458,640, of which USD 1,006, 865 was spent on staff salaries, USD 823, 971 professional fees, USD 29,730 travel, and USD 26, 911 on veterinary care. 

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.