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🐘 Help Us Evaluate Zoos Worldwide! 🦓

Planning a zoo visit or maybe you've just returned from one?


Your observations can make a monumental difference! Participate in our international zoo survey and voice your experiences. We understand that many zoos play a vital role in education and conservation, offering endangered species a lifeline in challenging times. However, we aim to identify and address zoos that may fall short in their responsibility to the animals. By taking the survey, you're helping us pinpoint areas of concern and ensure animals everywhere are treated justly!

👉 Take the survey every time you visit a zoo, anywhere in the world. Together, let's champion the well-being of captive wildlife and Free The Wild!

Image by Simone Stander


Experience the extraordinary journey of Free The Wild's latest rescue mission as we worked with Warriors of Wildlife over the last two months to save and relocate an illegally smuggled lion cub named Zion-Niv.


Partnering with the Ukraine and South-Africa based big-cat rescue specialists, and together with your support, Free The Wild funded the entire operation to regime Zion-Niv, taking him from government custody in a temporary holding pen in Israel to the Simbonga Game Reserve & Sanctuary in South Africa.


Witness his incredible transformation from captivity to freedom, as he makes himself at home in the lush South African bush, free of trauma and free to live out the rest of his days in peace.


Join us in our commitment to protecting and advocating for the rights of animals suffering in captivity. 


After a thorough health assessment by carried out by four of the world's leading elephant experts, Free The Wild and the professional panel have recommended that Lucy, the 47-year-old asian elephant remain at Edmonton Valley Zoo until her health improves. Lucy suffers from a unique and baffling breathing impairment which makes sedation and any tests thereunder impossible to carry out.


The panelists have recommended significant changes be made to her facilities and care regimens, including additional space for her to roam, access to fresh water to drink and bathe in, air quality improvements, a modified diet and a protected contact management system.


Free The Wild will work closely with the zoo over the coming months to monitor Lucy's progress as collectively aim for her health to improve and breathing issues to subside.


To read the full press release and gain access to the individual panelist reports on Lucy, please follow the link below.

Image by Vineet Nangia


2022 presented Free The Wild with a range of challenges, not least of which were the difficulties we faced while working to free lions, tigers and bears from various zoos and private collections in Ukraine.

Thanks to the support of our fellow animal lovers, the steely-eyed determination of our partners across the world and our dedicated team, Free The Wild was able to administer high-level care to suffering elephants, bears and lions across Europe and the Americas, safely transfer 10 big cats over 7000km from Ukraine to South Africa, gain government support for the abolishment of animal testing in Israel and garner a vote of confidence from Thai officials in our mission to free Bua Noi and the hundreds of other animals held in Pata Zoo.

Download the Report of the Trustees - 2022 PDF using this link.

We hope to achieve even more going into 2023 and, with a number of exciting, large-scale developments already in motion, we anticipate this year to be one of the charity's best to date.

Please join us in continuing our efforts to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, and to those of you who've helped us so far, we and the animals we've saved can't thank you enough.

Wishing you all a fantastic start to the year, with all our gratitude and more.


Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne

Co-founder & Trustee

Free the Wild


After several months of uncertainty surrounding the fates of the male lions, Mir and Simba, from Ukraine, we are delighted to announce their safe arrival in South Africa.

The two were slightly dazed following the 17-hour journey, but have both made a speedy recovery and are now enjoying the open African air and acres of space, along with the company of Simbonga's growing pride and dedicated staff.

There are still a concerning number of animals in distress throughout Ukraine as a result of the conflicts there, but the zoos, circuses and private owners continue to believe that they and their animals will be able to bounce back once the war is over. We continue to investigate potential solutions to get them out, and hope in the meantime that the shelling, gunfire and elevated sense of dread and anxiety doesn't take a deadly toll on those that remain.





Free The Wild are working on a number of international projects to help protect wild lion populations and improve the lives of those kept in captivity.


Right now, there are 12 lions in Lahore Safari Park, Pakistan, which are scheduled for auction to private collectors this week. We're working with ministers in Islamabad and WWF Pakistan to prevent this from going ahead!

As a result of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, many of the zoos in Ukraine have taken damage, lost their staff or fallen into disrepair, meaning their animals can no longer be supported. We have already worked to save 5 lions, a tiger and a bear from the war zone, but now our partners are on the ground trying to save two more, Mir and Simba. Please donate to our cause so that we can get them out safely, and have them moved to an accredited sanctuary in South Africa.



With your support and the courage of a few amazing people on the ground in Ukraine, Masha has been successfully collected from her temporary housing facility and safely transported to her new sanctuary home in Romania!

Liberty Bear Sanctuary is a 70 hectare stretch of land in the Romanian wilderness, home to over 100 brown bears rescued from across Europe and Asia - a wonderful place for Masha, the 22-year-old ex-circus bear to call home.

Thank you all for your amazing efforts 🧡



We did it again. Free the wild’s latest rescue mission is complete. Five happy lions and one magnificent tiger received a new lease on life after being transferred from their appalling captivity in Ukraine to their new sanctuary home in South Africa. The big cats touched down in Johannesburg on Friday, 14th January 2022, courtesy of DHL and were then transferred by road to Simbonga Sanctuary in Gqeberha (previously known as Port Elizabeth). Our mission started some 6 months ago when we learnt of 7 lions and a tiger’s struggle for life and survival from Lionel De Lange. The cats lived depressing lives in horrific, antiquated concrete cages in Ukraine. They endured freezing conditions in winter, living on concrete floors and looking at the outside world through thick steel bars. None of the cats had ever felt soft soil under their paws, they never knew the smell of grass, neither did they sense the heat of the sun nor experienced the shade of a tree. 


Their cramped, caged and neglected conditions in the Ukraine zoo, regrettably led to one of the male lions being killed in a fight before we could complete the rescue and very sadly, another one of the older, frail males suffered a heart-attack and died during sedation. He could not be resuscitated. COVID played a significant role in the loss of these magnificent lions as delayed travel arrangements hampered their earlier release. This was a heartbreaking setback for all of us at Free the Wild and the Warriors of Wildlife teams who were working on this project. But, despite this tragic result, the five remaining lions and their female tiger companion made it, and for the first time in their lives they stepped out of their caged existence into the fresh African air, where they started familiarising themselves immediately with their new sanctuary home on Saturday morning.


The 14-hour transfer by road from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth was hopefully their last ordeal and we hope and pray that the experience in total was not too traumatic for them. News from Simbonga reports that they are settling in and fast acclimatising to their new surroundings and the weather.


Finally, these beautiful big cats have a chance to live out the rest of their lives in peace and care in the warmth of Africa. 


We cannot thank everyone involved in this relocation enough. From Lionel and Anya who brought their plight to our attention, their team at Simbonga Sanctuary, the vets in Ukraine, DHL for sponsoring this precious cargo and our amazing Co-founder Cher for all her help and the financial support and care from all our wonderful donors and supporters. On behalf of all of us at Free the Wild, here’s to the lions and the tiger’s future in their happy new home.


Thanks to all of you for helping us make this happen and to Si Cunneen for the wonderful images!

Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne

Co-founder & Trustee

Free the Wild



Free The Wild has successfully completed our work in Ukraine, to rescue and relocate the lions and tigress brought to our attention by Lionel De Lange and have them safely transferred to sanctuary in South Africa.

Their epic journey from Ukraine, to Turkey and then Johannesburg by air followed by a 14-hour overland haul to Simbonga Sanctuary in Port Elizabeth is complete and they are now home free.

Thank you for your amazing support - we couldn't have done it without you!

Please click on the link below to learn more about the project and to read Co-Founder, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne's mission statement.



Our competition winners have been selected!

A huge congratulations to the top three contenders and our Under 15s winner! Follow the link below to see all 15 Finalist photos and the overall winners.

Prizes are currently being processed, so be sure to check your emails to see if we've reached out to you for additional information.

Image by Alexas_Fotos


As an amateur wildlife photographer, a conservationist at heart, and through all my travels visiting wildlife reserves and conservancies around the world, I am all too familiar with how animals live and survive in the wild. 


I am aware of how they mix with their own kind, stimulated but their natural surroundings and how they behave like wild animals should. 


Seeing what happens in some of the world’s worst zoos and circuses, where wild animals are kept in confined spaces, frequently in solitary confinement, all too often in the wrong or no natural habitat at all, is simply heart-breaking.


For those of us who care about these rights and wrongs, we find the treatment of these animals and their living conditions unbearable to look at. But, then it’s so much easier to simply look away.


May I please request that we don’t turn our backs on these poor souls in 2021? Please start this new year by opening your eyes to their plight and need for help.


With the very complex year of 2020 behind us all, I can honestly say that we can be happy to have been able to focus on the positives too. In the face of COVID, Free the Wild still managed to achieve the freedom of Kaavan and the other animals in Islamabad. Relocating this elephant from his solitary confinement in Pakistan to his new and peaceful home in Cambodia was a giant leap for a small charity like Free the Wild. No matter how difficult it was for us at times, to know that were able to achieve this task after five years of very difficult work, it has now spurred us on to continue on our future missions.


For Free the Wild, 2021 is not only the beginning of new year, but also the start of our critical work to help some of the other persecuted, imprisoned, isolated, abused and neglected captive wild animals around the world.


Whilst many of us may sometimes feel like just burying our heads in the sand and walking away, we must look at this new year as a gift of time and pull together our strengths as human beings to face each new challenge. 


Please help us achieve the rescue and release into sanctuaries of the ± 300 primates, reptiles and other animals in Pata Zoo.  Naturally our work does not end with this particular zoo in Thailand.  There are animals suffering in many terrible zoos who need our help immediately.  We have a massive task this year and as a very small charity, we simply cannot do it alone.


On behalf of Kaavan, and all the other animals that were released from the zoo in Islamabad, may I take this moment to thank all our amazing supporters again for the help you’ve given us in 2020 and ask you to continue with your assistance.  It certainly was a year that we will never forget but let’s make 2021 the year to remember.  


Cher, Mark and I, along with our trustees wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne

Co-founder & Trustee

Free the Wild


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