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Why OAT started

Why OAT Started

I have always had a passion for animal welfare. My vision for OAT was inspired by my involvement with the rescue of a French circus lion, Simba. After 9 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, but Simba now lives happily at a sanctuary in Malawi together with his lifer long companion, a lioness named Bella who was rescued from a Romanian zoo six years previous.

Sue Olsen - OAT Founder

The OAT Mission

Olsen Animal Trust has been established to partner organisations and individuals who are aligned in their vision to end animal cruelty and exploitation, enhance animal welfare, and conserve wildlife in their natural habitat. This mission embodies the vision and values of the Olsen family, inspired by their love of all animals.  

OAT is the vision of Sue Olsen, who founded the Olsen Animal Trust.

A lot has happened since this rescue in 2012. In  I have been involved in the rescue of two more lions, Black & Jora, from a circus in Bulgaria. They are now under the wonderful care of the Born Free Team at their Big Cat Sanctuary located within the Shamwari Private Game Reserve.   

Dave, aka OATOKE is our man on the ground and is responsible for developing the relationship with the people who deliver the projects we support and Jonathan provides commercial and strategic advise and keeps us on track!

During 2015 I set up Olsen Animal Trust following a fortunate set of circumstance 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 and China. The range of projects we support covers a wide spectrum of activities in both animal welfare, compassionate conservation for both animals and people and conservation education.

The Family at Shamwari

OAT is now very much a family charity and my Brother Dave Higgs and my husband  Jonathan Olsen are actively involved.

We are hopeful our children Jeffrey and Nicola will follow in our footsteps and continue the legacy. They are showing positive signs….

Walking with the Orphans
Jeff's first visit to ZPP
Nicola preparing breakfast
Jeff's Shamwari Visit
The Olsen Family at Lilayi
Nicola's School Cake Sale
Meet the Team

Meet the team

Sue Olsen

Life has not been the same for Sue since she assisted in the rescue of Simba the lion and escorted him back to Africa. Sue's passion and commitment to animal welfare and compassionate conservation knows no bounds and from this heartfelt place OAT grows.


Jonathan Olsen


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Dave Higgs


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Catherine Hobbs

Role in the company

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Polly Mason


Polly & Sue met walking up Kilimanjaro in 2014 

Will Travers


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Even our own beloved rescue dogs get into the OAT spirit at home! 

Working for Change

Working for change


Membership and Support

  • Mount Kilimanjaro


OAT holds memberships or offers support to the following organisations

  • Canned Lion March

  • Taji Dolphin March

  • Elephant & Rhino March 

  • SSN 

  • PETA

  • PAWS - The Ark Sanctuary 

  • Whale & Dolphin

  • Big Barn farm sanctuary (UK based domestic animals)

  • Various dog & cat charities


  • Cites

Friends of OAT

Friends of OAT

We are also blessed to have numerous friends express genuine interest in the projects we support and many of them now support them too, either indirectly via our fundraising events or directly by personally engaging and contributing.  We are forever grateful to Virginia McKenna and Will Travers who inspired us and are privileged to have become their friends and well as their supporters.

Sandy Loehoff & Sue Olsen
David Simpson & Sue Olsen
Kind donations
Come on a rescue

Other friends help in a more commercial way.  

Journey by Design, contribute a percentage of their commissions erred through business we refer to them to Species Survival Network who we are proud to support.

Jocelyn Lawman’s helped us from the outset with her branding and artistic expertise. She developed or logo and the beautiful invitations and marketing material for our events. Jos has also developed Dave Blog and she has played a huge part on the development of our website.  link to website. Many people have asked who created the lovely images on the blog when lack of internet prevented Dave from sending pics from the filed (insert one of the little hut with the kids) well this is the artist! 

Jocelyn Lawman

Africa Collection very kindly support us through donating a percentage of their commissions earned through business we refer to them, to nominated.

Will Jones

Paul Chuter provides help to a number of the projects we support in the filed of effective fundraising, marketing and copywriting

Paul Chuter

Chris Fortescue

We are so grateful to our dear friend Maria SLough who has not only dedicated her precious time and stunning photos for some of our events but also connected us to some fantastic projects including Animals Asia and a rescue farm in North England. She is an Animal Warrior who regularly writes for Vegan Life and produced the eye opening documentary Road to Freedom. 

Maria Slough

Matt is working with us on a number of the projects we support proving strategic advise on large scale conservation projects.

Matt McKluckie

Not only do Two Many Cooks serve delicious food at many of our events, they also often generously donate their time, food and staff to help aid our fundraising efforts.  


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