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 and 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, especially 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.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.