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It’s a jungle in there

March 17, 2012

Fighting extinction artwork in ACDC lane, Melbourne, Australia

I worked in a zoo once and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy seeing animals in captivity. I’m not sure I knew many people who worked there who liked the idea. But sadly, for many species, there isn’t any habitat left.

When we say that we think about elephants and tigers, lions, bears. Exotic species from far-off lands.

You know, like this fella.

The fact is many, many native Australian animal species are under threat. Facing extinction. They may not be majestic pin-up beasts. But they’re part of an ecosystem. They’re worth saving. And they’re in our backyard.

Zoos Victoria has identified 20 species in need and committed to fight their extinction.

As part of the awareness-raising we’ve seen valentines sent to threatened animals and, more recently, an artwork in Melbourne’s ACDC lane.

The artwork covers the side and back of Cherry Bar and rumour has it, was created by local artists, including some from the awesome Everfresh Studio.

ACDC lane artwork

ACDC lane

I was incredibly lucky during my time at the zoo to meet a whole lot of creatures.

One can’t have favourites.

But this is mine.

Diego was an old Coati, the last of his group. Mostly he sat in that barrel and slept. Not a great display for guests, some might say, but no one would boot Diego out of his home before his time. He was a truly amazing creature. During a hot summer (when this pic was taken) we’d take him frozen grapes and the keepers would make sure he was cool. It’s hard to say just what made him so special, but he certainly was. When he did pass away at a grand old age, there were plenty of tears. I hear the zoo has a new group of Coati. But there’ll only ever be one Diego.

A close second in my mind is Mali. I received a text early in the morning (like 3am early) about Mali’s birth, and much as I was determined not to get caught up in the Elephant magic, there was no stopping Mali. Her mother had a tough labour, but Mali was a character and a delight from go. I’ve seen other elephant calves, but none like her.

She’s an incredible ambassador for her species, so it’s fitting that the next art project is inspired by her. 50 casts in her likeness, all over Melbourne city.

Mali in the city

The zoo is looking for 50 incredible artists to decorate these statues. Who do you think should do one? Here’s my list. If you’re an artist, you can apply here.

1. Charles Hardman

2. James Noble

3. Meggs

4. Beci Orpin

5. Pilgrim Lee

6. Kirpy

7. Noel McKenna

8. Georgia McCorkill

9. Jennifer Henderson

10. Clare McFarlane


2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2012 1:27 pm

    I’d love to see creative types from all different industries (not just ‘artists’ in the traditional sense) decorate Mali. Textile designers, graphic designers, fashion designers, architects… etc.

    • LouPardi permalink*
      March 19, 2012 9:45 am

      Agree! I think you and Georgia McCorkill would be ace!!

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