Above: Termite, Watercolor by Josh Allen
The world of animals as we know it is disappearing.The extinction rate today is higher than it’s ever been.
Science tells us that most animals will not survive our massive presence on earth unless we intervene. It also predicts a ripple effect on human health and society: we rely on animals for food, trade, shelter, sport, companionship, medicine, and spirituality.
Art deepens our understanding of this interdependency. It helps us explore how we feel about animals and our relationships with them. It encourages us to show compassion. As we be- come increasingly urban and pay less attention to nature, art reminds us we are all connected.
Yet presented separately, scientific study and artistic expression have not had their intended impact. We continue to lose biodiversity at an alarming rate. Often, well-meaning people turn away from conservation because it seems too upsetting or hopeless. At Creature Conserve, our strategy is to combine these age-old practices. Art informed by scientific facts can make the problems facing animals today not only more real, but more understandable, meaningful, and solvable. Together, artists and scientists can also reach a broader audience with a more inclusive message.
“Long Live the King” by Chloé Bulpin celebrates the Lion Guardians, modern Maasai warriors who protect lions rather than hunt them.
WHY Why bring art and science together? Dr. Lucy explains.
I am one of relatively few veterinarians in the world who practices zoological medicine. I love my job. But it has also brought me great sadness. It is heart-breaking to watch my patients disappear, to see the mass extinction of species happening right in front of me, despite my efforts and those of many others. Even the once common African lion is now in trouble. There is no medicine for extinction. Yet this harsh fact is actually a very abstract idea for most people. Not for me. I have been responsible for the lives of some of the rarest animals in the world: black footed ferrets, giant pandas, Komodo dragons, Micronesian kingfishers, and mountain gorillas. I have done all I can to save them and worked alongside many others dedicated to the same goal. I have also seen first hand the ripple effect of injury and sickness. Our health and prosperity in turn depends on healthy animals, and both depend on a healthy environment. We are all connected.
The reality is that most people do not think about saving species on a daily basis. Conservation is something someone else does somewhere far away. Most do not consider it a priority. If they did everyone trying to help animals in trouble would have plenty of support and funding. The process is also complicated. Conservation is not any one thing. It is a collaborative problem-solving process that relies on scientific data to make informed decisions. Economic, political, social factors play a huge role. Public participation, locally as well as globally, is the key.
The way I see it, conservation is health care for the planet. The situation is by no means all doom and gloom. Conservation programs have been and are successful. We just need to do more. What will motivate us? A better understanding of what is happening and what we can each do about it. Animals are not just for kids. Nor are they safe and sound in some faraway place as our culture often depicts them. I believe art that explores the problems facing animals today–and, their solutions–can make a big difference.
Here on our website you will find works of art and design that are both informed by science and emotionally charged. I hope they will motivate you to take action. Pick your favorite animal and find a way to celebrate, study, and help protect it. Join us. Be creative. And enjoy the wild and wonderful world of animals.
Pangi by Jack Yuen explores the cultural significance, unique ecology, and threatened status of the ground pangolin, one of the world’s most trafficked wild animals.