“Savage”–Zoo Miami’s Inaugural Art Exhibition for Animals by Animals

Although a lot of zoo stories make their way through my email inbox, I do go out hunting for unique zoo-sponsored conservation projects to highlight. This particular art exhibition for animals by animals had me salivating.

Pygmy hippo tail painting at Zoo Miami (Courtesy Zoo Miami)

It was certainly not the first time that zoo animal ambassadors were invited to participate in artistic endeavors for conservation fundraising purposes. In fact, it is fairly common for zoos to encourage their animals to play and paint with non-toxic finger paints and other safe-for-animal use and consumption artistic media.  Painting on a canvas serves as enrichment for the animals, as much as it serves as enrichment for spectators including animal keepers and patrons. And selling the art work to raise money for conservation has always made sense.

It is most fascinating to watch animals explore their artistic faculties.  Some may just be responding to scents or textures added to the paint, while others may really be expressing creative behavior.

So why did this particular event catch my attention?  The photos from press coverage were captivating, but the name of the exhibition, the venue with live music, and the collaborative effort all to fund raise for local conservation initiatives including work to save the Florida bonneted bat, made for a well-packaged fundraiser.

Thought to be extinct until 2002 when some individuals were discovered in Fort Myers, the bonneted bat is the state’s largest bat species and one of the rarest of the rare.

The Details:

On February 4th, Zoo Miami and the South Florida Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers (SFAAZK) presented “Savage” at the Bakehouse Art Complex, the non-profit visual and educational art institution in Miami that just celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Miami’s Bakehouse typically caters to emerging and mid-career artists and helps cultivate some pretty impressive human talent. However, this inaugural art exhibition was for animals by animals, seemed to have quite an air of sophistication, and was all for a noble cause–wildlife conservation.

For more pictures and video footage, please check out this link to a Huffington Post article on the story.



Human Journey

Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: jordan@jordanschaul.com http://www.facebook.com/jordan.schaul https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanschaul/ www.jordanschaul.com www.bicoastalreputationmanagement.com