The OAT Mission
OAT is a family trust established to end animal cruelty and exploitation by supporting organisations and initiatives concerned with animal welfare and conservation. The trust seeks partners and projects that are aligned with their vision and are achieving positive outcomes on the ground. This embodies the values of the Olsen family, inspired by their love of all animals.
Why OAT Started
"I have always had a passion for animal welfare. My vision for OAT was inspired by my involvement in the rescue of a French circus lion, Simba. After nine years of exploitation, Born Free came to the rescue and facilitated Simba’s return to Africa and I was fortunate enough to accompany him and the Born Free rescue team on his journey. Sadly, like all institutionalised animals, he will never be able to return to the wild. However, Simba lived happily and in good care at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi, together with his life-long companion, Bella, a lioness rescued from a Romanian zoo, some six years prior. Sadly both lions have since left us but at least they were shown compassion and respect in their final years.
A lot has happened since this rescue in 2012.
During 2015 I set up Olsen Animal Trust following a fortunate set of circumstances which enabled me to express my passion for animal welfare further. I will always be a huge supporter of Born Free, as it was their work and dedication that inspired me, but I am also pleased to say that we are now supporting a variety of projects in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and more recently in Vietnam, China and also Afghanistan, the Maldives, Borneo, Iran and the UK! The range of projects we support covers a wide spectrum of activities including animal rescue and rehabilitation, compassionate conservation and education outreach.
OAT is now very much a family charity and my brother, Dave Higgs and husband, Jon Olsen, fellow Trustees, are actively involved.
Dave, aka OATOKE, is our man on the ground and is responsible for developing relationships with people who deliver the projects we support, and Jon keeps us on track by providing commercial and strategic advice.
We are also fortunate enough to have engaged colleagues, Catherine Hobbs and Polly Mason, who assist us with all aspects of managing the Trust.
We are hopeful our children, Jeffrey and Nicola, will follow in our footsteps and continue the legacy. They are showing positive signs…."
Sue Olsen - Founder
Sue & Jon Olsen
Dave Higgs aka OATOKE
Jeff & Nicola with elephant tracking collar
During the family trip to Tanzania Jeff and Nicola Olsen were fascinated to learn about how the elephants in the Ngorongoro Crater are tracked by the PAMS Foundation team using these very large satellite collars.
The Olsens with Rhino Ambassadors
When visiting Vietnam the Olsens and Dave, our OATOKE, took time to meet some of the Wilderness Rhino Ambassadors and learn about how their experiences with the Forever Wild Rhino programme have helped them spread the important message not to use horn throughout their country.
Jeff's speech at the Rally For Conservation
Inspired by his trip to Shamwari Jeff Olsen, together with friend Max Simpson, wanted to do more to help. Here Jeff is speaking at their event, Rally for Conservation, which raised over £40,000 for the cause.
Nicola & friends at Rally For Conservation
Nicola Olsen and her friends get involved with OAT at every opportunity they can. The Rally for Conservation was no exception, as they did a brilliant job selling raffle tickets and auction prizes (and posing for great photos too!)
The OAT sponsored bear sanctuary
When they visited Vietnam the Olsen's were able to witness the rescued bile bears enjoying life in their new enclosure, co-sponsored by OAT.
The Olsens with the Animals Asia vet team
Getting to see first-hand the incredible vets at work in the Animals Asia bear sanctuary was a thrilling experience for all the Olsens and really highlighted the dedication, compassion and hard-working attitude the entire team have.
Jeff Olsen in Zambia
Jeff on our first family trip to Zambia and our first visit to projects of Game Rangers International.
Jeff & Nicola with Orphaned Elephants
Jeff & Nicola walking with a herd of orphaned elephants during their release phase. This elephant rescue, rehab and release programme is a Game Rangers International project.
Nicola Olsen preparing elephant milk
Nicola busy in the kitchen at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery for orphaned baby elephants in Zambia. This is a Game Rangers International Project.
Jeff & friend Max volunteering at Shamwari
Learning about conservation and wildlife care on the ground. Jeff and his friend Max recently spent time at Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa. They shadowed the wildlife veterinary team, the anti-poaching team and the team of carers at Born Free's Big Cat Rescue Centre, located within the reserve.
Visiting Africa is an annual occurrence for the Olsen family. Featured here from the left: Sue's brother, and fellow trustee Dave Higgs (aka OATOKE), Sue Olsen (Founder), Jon Olsen (husband of Sue and fellow Trustee) and their children Nicola and Jeff.
Nicola's School Cake Sale for Born Free
With a little help from her friends, Nicola's Easter Egg stall was a big success for Born Free. Not only did the children learn about the valuable work of the charity, they also enjoyed a lot of chocolate!
Lion rescue - Shamwari, South Africa
Participating in another Born Free rescue of two ex-circus Lions from Bulgaria. They are now living happily at Born Free's Big Cat Sanctuary at Shamwari in SA. This was the happy day of their arrival.
On one of many family trips to Africa where we always take time to visit the projects we support.
Sue, Virginia McKenna & rescued Lioness
Happy memories of Sue's first rescue trip with Born Free where Simba, a previous circus lion was rescued and re-homed with Bella his new companion (featured here) at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi.