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Fifty years free

Co-founder of the Born Free Foundation Virginia McKenna OBE tells Paul Seligman why, 50 years on, she is still fighting the unethical treatment of African wildlife
NDEITHI KARIUKI

HOW DID THE BORN FREE FOUNDATION COME INTO BEING?

In 1968 I worked on a film with a young elephant who had been gifted to London Zoo. We asked to buy her for Daphne and David Sheldrick, which was granted, but we were warned that another one must be captured as a result. Unthinkable. Many years later, we were told that she had become difficult and might be destroyed. The authorities would not allow us to rehome her in a South African reserve, but agreed to move her to Whipsnade Zoo. However, this never happened, as after standing in her travelling crate for hours, she collapsed, damaged a leg and was put down. This was the catalyst that started our charity in 1984.

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