|Cover of Born Free|
A new award ceremony known as the "British Animals Honours" bestowed perhaps their most prestigious award on Virginia McKenna for "Outstanding Contribution". Presenter, Paul O'Grady, who regularly books trained animals - both domestic and wild - for his television show "The Paul O'Grady Show", told the audience and viewers that "Every one of our winners deserves our admiration, but none more so than our final honour". Virginia McKenna is known to the majority of the general public as a loveable old movie actress who now dedicates most of her time to supposedly saving animals through her Born Free Foundation. McKenna's radical stance against both animal circuses and zoos is well-known. She has never worried about aligning herself with organizations like PETA* (who were declared a terrorist threat by USDA in 2009), the HSUS and others in the hugely controversial case against Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
On several occasions, McKenna has declared that she wants all animals to be free from captivity. This is in the face of the fact that several wild animals are critically endangered in the wild with many facing immediate extinction and McKenna's own organization running sanctuaries that keep captive animals. Nevertheless, she raises millions by using images of exotic wild animals, often lions that can be immediately associated the film title that inspired the name of her "Born Free Foundation", and lives a very comfortable life for a film actress whose acting career has been, at best, very sporadic since the 1960s.