Artists have always been interpreters of our time. Through their eyes, the science of saving species and the importance of taking a one-health approach to conservation becomes accessible, meaningful, relevant, and, the source of positive change.
— Creature Conserve Founder, Dr. Lucy Spelman
Watering hole, Etosha National Park, Namibia, 2004.  

Watering hole, Etosha National Park, Namibia, 2004.  

why: The world of animals as we know it is disappearing

A basic principle of ecology is that all life is connected. Every living creature competes for air, food, water, and shelter. As a species, humans are dominant. We control the resources, consuming and exploiting animals for companionship, clothing, food, sport, and spirituality. As a result, an alarming number of species are threatened. This worrisome trend has been well-documented by scientists. We learn about the dire state of many species through a variety of media, often on a daily basis. Yet the extinction rate for animals today is higher than ever in recorded history.

Scientists study the impact of climate change, global trade, habitat loss, and pollution on animal anatomy, behavior, evolution, health, nutrition, population dynamics, preventive medicine, and reproduction. They gather data, interpret it, and make recommendations. Science provides a road map for conservation. It also tells us that most animals present today—including humans—will not survive our massive presence on earth without our immediate intervention.

Our scientific understanding of what we need to do for saving species is only part of the solution. There is an equally important need to help more people understand how interdependent we are, and that our continued success depends on a diverse and healthy animal kingdom. We need to find new ways to ease conflict and restore damaged habitats. We can pay farmers for their losses or build fences, hire more rangers to stop poachers, invest in parks and reserves, and educate those who live in closest proximity how to live in balance with wildlife. In other words, we have to be willing to share the resources with other species.

what: bringing artists and scientists together to save species 

At Creature Conserve, we believe the solution is to combine science and art. Often, well-meaning people turn away from understanding what conservation truly means because it seems too upsetting, or hopeless. Many of us reside in urban areas, disconnected from nature. Art helps us explore how we feel about animals and our relationships with them. It deepens our understanding of their unique needs and encourages us to appreciate similarities and differences, and to show compassion. Art can make the problems facing animals today not only more real, but more understandable, meaningful, and solvable. It can motivate us to take conservation action.

We develop programs that encourage artists interested in conservation to get more involved and informed by collaborating with scientists who work in conservation. We want this work to result in art that is both informed by the facts and emotionally charged. We believe such art will engage the public more fully and more effectively. We further believe the need for these collaborations and the resultant art is more necessary than ever for the well-being of all species.

Artwork created through interaction between scientists and artists reaches its widest and most diverse audience online and in exhibits that include galleries and museums as well as schools, libraries, and gathering places such as coffee shops, bookstores, assisted living facilities, banks, hotel lobbies, office buildings, and other public venues. 

For more about what we do, go to PROGRAMS.

who: creature conserve is A community OF ARTISTS AND SCIENTISTS

Creature Conserve is an all volunteer group that includes an eight-member Board and four Advisors. One hundred percent of funds raised go to our programs.

Our Board of Directors are: Dr. Lucy Spelman (Founder and Chair), Abigail Adams (Secretary), Nicholas Jainschigg (Vice Chair), Chloe Bulpin, Dr. Nicole Merola, Traer Scott, Sarah Sun, and Christina Ward. Our Advisors are: Susan Doyle, Richard Gann, and Susan Tacent, and Rae Whiteley.

Creature Conserve Founder Dr. Lucy Spelman at work in Guyana with RISD art and design students and Karanambu guides. 

Creature Conserve Founder Dr. Lucy Spelman at work in Guyana with RISD art and design students and Karanambu guides. 


In her TEDx talk (click here to watch Art Can Save a Panda) Dr. Spelman describes how her work as a zoo and wildlife veterinarian led her to seek new ways to engage people in conservation by connecting art and science. Over the course of her 25-year career, she has treated animals of all kinds, from cockroaches to giant pandas. She has lived in Rwanda, where she managed the veterinary team responsible for the world’s only mountain gorillas, has served as Director of the Smithsonian National Zoo, and is a published author. In addition to scientific articles, she contributed the title story and edited 23 others in “The Rhino with Glue-on Shoes.” (Random House, 2008) and wrote the text for the popular “National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia ” (2012.) She has taught biology at RISD since 2010 and continues to practice veterinary medicine at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists.