Keep Wildlife in the Wild.

Washington, DC   |


Our vision is a co-existent future where humans no longer exploit wild animals. We work tirelessly to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. As a leading wildlife charity, we oppose the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild. We promote Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. We seek to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Angela Grimes

Main address

PO Box 32160

Washington, DC 20007 USA

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NTEE code info

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We work to combat the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of wildlife, both in captivity and in their natural habitats. This includes working against the exotic pet trade, the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, the fur trade, trapping, wildlife trafficking, trophy hunting, culling, and other activities that harm wild animals.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary

The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, located on 175 acres in south Texas, provides a safe, permanent home for more than 450 nonhuman primates. Many of these primates were rescued from laboratories, roadside attractions, private ownership, and other abusive and exploitative situations. Residents are comprised of macaques, baboons, and vervets. Nonhuman primates are widely exploited in cruel and unnatural ways. When these animals are no longer deemed useful as pets or research subjects, or when they are seized from illegal situations by law enforcement, sanctuaries must exist to provide them a home—as the alternative is often death. After experiencing cruelty, a sanctuary may be their only hope for a second chance to live, free from their former abuses. Residents experience grass, sunshine, a warm breeze on their face, the ability to climb a tree, and the companionship and comfort of others of their own kind often for the first time in their lives. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is a leader in the field. We stand out because of the size and composition of our animal enclosures, the largest of which is 56 acres. Habitats are great in size and are filled with trees and brush, allowing the rescued animals the ability to live as similarly as possible to what nature intended. The sanctuary is not open to the public and never puts the animals on display for entertainment or educational purposes.

Population(s) Served

Across the United States, millions of exotic animals are kept in private homes, roadside zoos, circuses, and other captive situations. The trade in exotic animals is a multi-billion dollar industry, and exotic animals are bred, sold, and traded in large numbers. These animals—including, among other species, lions, tigers, cougars, wolves, bears, monkeys, alligators, and venomous snakes and other reptiles—pose grave dangers to human health and safety when privately owned. By their very nature, exotic animals are unpredictable and are incapable of being domesticated or tamed. Born Free USA works to prohibit or severely restrict the private possession of exotic animals through legislation, law enforcement, and public education. In addition to Born Free USA’s work against the private ownership of exotic animals, we work to reform the way zoos, aquariums, and other entertainment venues operate. We advocate for the closing down of the worst facilities, and stopping the importation of wild animals for zoos. Born Free USA campaigns against the use of wild animals as pets and in all entertainment venues. We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—from lobbying, to lawsuits, to grassroots organizing—to end the cruel exploitation of wildlife for human amusement and profit.

Population(s) Served

Born Free USA works against the international wildlife trade. Global commercialization of wild animals and plants is a multi-billion dollar industry and can result in extreme animal cruelty and serious population declines. Animals affected by this trade include primates, reptiles, and other species traded as "pets"; exotic birds; bears, tigers, and rhinos, who are among the species coveted for their body parts, organs, and products made from them; and elephants, who are shipped live to zoos across the globe, hunted for their tusks, or killed after conflict with people. Born Free USA is an NGO participant at the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates commercial international trade of threatened and endangered species. We also hold trainings and distribute reference tools across west and central Africa for customs officers, judges, and other law enforcement to aide them in identifying and stopping illegal wildlife trafficking.

Population(s) Served

Born Free USA works to end the use of body-gripping traps in the U.S. with emphasis on banning trapping in national wildlife refuges and in state and local areas. Our campaigns also aim to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur fashions through consumer education, fashion design contests, and attitude changes among retailers. Each year, millions of furbearing animals are killed under the auspices of "nuisance wildlife control" and millions more are killed in the name of fashion. Indiscriminate body-crushing traps are used to capture or kill furbearing animals who are deemed a "nuisance" or who are valued only for the fur on their backs. Once an animal is caught, he or she may remain in a trap for several days before starving or dying from exposure. Snares, which are like wire nooses, can cause trapped animals to slowly strangle to death. Fur represents senseless pain and suffering—and farm-raised fur is no exception. Animals on fur farms live in a state of constant fear and are kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of the ability to express natural behavior. Moreover, no U.S. laws regulate how animals on fur farms are to be housed or killed. Born Free USA works to protect animals from cruel traps and to bring an end to the barbaric fur trade. Today, fewer than 150,000 people trap in the U.S., each earning less than a few hundred dollars per year (on average). Yet, the federal government continues to expand trapping on public lands—even in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Population(s) Served

Born Free USA defends the Endangered Species Act by advocating against legislation and policies that seek to weaken it and by educating the public about the importance and effectiveness of this crucial law.We have also participated in lawsuits to prevent the removal of species from the ESA.
Born Free USA is a member of the Endangered Species Coalition, a network of conservation, scientific, education, sporting/outdoor, political, and community groups – as well as over 150,000 individual activists – dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places. We regularly work with the coalition to participate in “fly-in” lobbying days, phone banking, sign-on letters, and social media days of action under the hashtag #StopExtinction, all to raise awareness about new attacks on the ESA and to call on lawmakers to protect this vital law.

Population(s) Served

Born Free USA’s Coexisting with Wildlife campaigns focus on two main areas: “nuisance” wildlife control, which is primarily an issue in urban and suburban areas, and lethal predator control, which occurs more in rural or agricultural regions. We are a recognized leader in the fight against both of these cruel and unnecessary practices. Our program activities include protecting animals from culling and hunting, supporting wildlife rehabilitation, and educating the public about how to live peacefully alongside native wildlife.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Accredited 2009

Affiliations & memberships

EarthShare Member 2019

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Born Free USA aims to Keep Wildlife in the Wild, where they rightfully belong, as free as possible from human interference. We address the following specific needs:
• Protecting species in their natural habitat
• Rescuing and, where possible rehabilitating, wild animals from appalling captive situations
• Implementing practical solutions to enable humans and wildlife to live in harmony
• Uncovering and raising awareness about cruelty to wild animals
• Supporting legislation to protect captive wild animals and their wild counterparts
• Preventing illegal trade in wild animals and their body parts
• Developing public policy changes in various arenas

Millions of animals suffer at the hands of human beings, kept as “pets," displayed as attractions in conditions that compromise their physical and mental well-being, or killed in the name of fashion or décor. In our campaigns against such cruelties, we use powerful tools including legislation, public education, litigation, grassroots advocacy and work actively with media to spread the word about challenges facing animals.

Animals in captivity: Prohibit private possession of wild animals. Activities center around opportunities to bring this issue to light in the public eye. Our current flagship piece of legislation is the Captive Primate Safety Act, which bans the interstate transport of monkeys and would deliver a big blow to the pet trade. It builds upon similar legislation passed with our assistance to stop the trade in big cats as pets.
Animals are sentenced to a lifetime of misery for the sake of a few moments of human entertainment at circuses and in zoos, roadside attractions, and aquariums. Born Free USA's Zoo Check Program engages the public in tracking and reporting abuses and substandard conditions in zoos. We track incidents involving captive wild animals in the United States through our Exotic Animal Incidents Database. We work with lawmakers and alongside other animal protection organizations to advocate for laws to put an end to wild animal captivity and to improve conditions for captive wildlife. We have also rescue monkeys from inadequate facilities through our Primate Sanctuary.

Trapping and Fur: End the use of body-gripping traps in the United States with emphasis on banning trapping in National Wildlife Refuges and in state and local areas as opportunities arise, and to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur fashions. Safe Trails provides information on the perils traps pose and how to cope with trap-related emergencies. We are part of the Fur Free Retailer Program and host an annual fur free design competition to prove that compassion is always in fashion. We plan to continue to press for passage of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act.

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary: Provides a safe, permanent home in spacious, natural habitats for more than 450 primates, giving them a second chance to live a peaceful life as close to what nature intended as possible. At the sanctuary monkeys experience – often for the first time in their lives – sunshine, trees, the ability to run and play, and the companionship of their own kind.

Wildlife Trade: We fight against the over-exploitation of wildlife through international trade that results in extreme animal cruelty and serious population declines. We are a participant at CITES and we have projects on the ground in 14 west and central African countries to combat illegal wildlife trade.

Born Free USA and its leadership team are internationally respected experts on wildlife conservation matters, many with several decades of experience under their belts. As an organization we work hard to make positive change through legislation, litigation, public education, advocacy, and animal rescue and care. We engage an international audience of supporters who we support and assist in grassroots advocacy. In 2007 Born Free USA merged with the well-respected Animal Protection Institute. As a combined organization we have over 50 years of experience in the animal welfare field. Our headquarter's location near the nation's capital gives us unique access to lawmakers and federal agencies. Our primate sanctuary in Texas is situated on 175 acres of land, giving us the ability to create free ranging naturalistic enclosures for our residents, and care that is seen as a gold standard among primate sanctuaries. Our membership in various coalitions and relationships with outside experts and organizations around the world give us the ability to accomplish even larger goals than we could on our own. Our experience and relationships with delegates in African countries allows us to facilitate international policy and capacity building in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. Our well established reputation as a leader among wildlife groups gives us the ability to advise on policy, wildlife management, and legislation on the municipal, national, and international levels.

Born Free USA has a history in making tangible differences for animals in need. Some examples include:

1.In 2019, California passed A.B. 273, which prohibits the trapping of any furbearing or nongame mammal for purposes of
recreation or commerce in fur, and A.B. 44, which prohibits the sale, display, trade, distribution, or manufacturing of fur. We had advised on and rallied behind both of these bills.

2. At the 18th Conference of the Parties for CITES, we fought for and won greater restrictions on the trade of dozens of species, including giraffes, small-clawed otters, and captured baby elephants.

3. Our petition to have the African Lion listed to the Endangered Species Act was successful, and our victorious lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife halted the removal of the Grey Wolf from the Endangered Species Act.

4. In 2011, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary took on the one of the largest single rescues in the history of sanctuaries – 107 macaques and one baboon from the bankrupt Wild Animal Orphanage. Had we not stepped up, these animals would have been put to death. Since then we have saved dozens of monkeys from roadside zoos, research labs, and abusive private homes.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Board of directors
as of 10/7/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Sean Cassidy

Mary Mitchell Trimble

Will Travers

Born Free Foundation

Jessica Nelson

Brook Ashley

Brook Ashley Real Estate

Michael Reyner

MWM Consulting

Jane Lodato

Studio Lodato

Sean Cassidy

Sean Store

Rebecca Torrey

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No