06/20/2011 03:32 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2011

A Week to Remember: Keep Wildlife in the Wild®

Born Free USA works tirelessly to protect wildlife in their natural habitats and as part of our mission, we designed a week to put an emphasis on what EVERY PERSON can do to help Keep Wildlife in the Wild®. From June 20 to 24, the third annual KEEP WILDLIFE IN THE WILD® WEEK will be celebrated. Think: Earth Day for wildlife.

Animals' rightful place in the wild has been compromised by humans. As we expand residential areas and intensive food-production enterprises, build roads and extract minerals, we shrink and degrade animals' natural space. As we kill animals frivolously for their furs, meat or parts, or just for a thrill, we diminish their numbers, sometimes to the brink of extinction. As we seize animals, often young ones from their mothers, and claim them as "pets" or deposit them in far-away zoos, we disrupt their familial structures and impose upon them unnatural, often cruel and twisted existences in which they are deprived of interaction within their species.

Wild animals are suffering and disappearing, in astonishing numbers. There may actually come a day when some of our most iconic species, including tigers, grizzly bears, and humpback whales, will be gone. Our children and grandchildren will learn about them in the past tense, just as we have heard about dodos, mammoths and dinosaurs.

We can do better. We must do better. And in doing better as adults, we must model conservation for the next generation of activists and change-makers. Keep Wildlife in the Wild® week is about action for all ages -- opening up the conversation to children about why wildlife matters for our planet. Every one of us can contribute in meaningful ways to make Earth a more compassionate home to all creatures including:

Consumerism. Forget what some assert is "fashionable" and buy fur-free clothes. Do a little research and avoid buying products or services from companies that are blatantly indifferent to, or destructive of, wildlife. Rather than attend a circus that exploits animals, patronize those whose entertainers are human.

Recreation. Hike, don't hunt. Photograph, don't fish. If you take a cruise, take one whose boat won't dump waste into the water. And if you are in the vicinity of wild animals, resist the temptation to interact; use a lens to get "close."

Education. Children love animals. We should nurture and encourage that natural affection and adoration. Tell your kids what is happening to wild animals, what our concerns are about their long-term viability, and they might come up with solutions. In fact, we are counting on them to do so.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week® is just one week, but its impact is potentially endless.

Not coincidentally, Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week® includes summer solstice, when daylight is at its longest and outdoor activities are most inviting. Please join us as we shine more light on how wildlife need and deserve more protection in the wild -- where they belong.