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‘Art for Conservation’: a unique exhibition at zoo

Auckland City Council
Media release

26 May 2008

‘Art for Conservation’ – a unique exhibition at Auckland Zoo

Justine Woosnam, an artist whose day job is looking after cheetahs and tigers, is the star talent behind an art exhibition opening at Auckland Zoo on Thursday, 5 June (World Environment Day) to raise funds to help endangered frogs.

The zoo’s historic Old Elephant House will be transformed into a gallery from 5 to 8 June, where Woosnam’s 13 works, along with those of “support artists” –elephants Kashin and Burma, and chimpanzee Janie, will be on offer for public viewing and purchasing. The elephants and Janie periodically paint as part of their behavioural enrichment programme to keep them physically and mentally challenged.

Woosnam has been painting all her life, and was inspired to combine her passion for art and animals to help the zoo support the Amphibian Ark 2008 Year of the Frog campaign. In all her pieces (paintings on canvas, on stone, and pencil drawings) she has taken Auckland Zoo animals as her subjects.

Cheetahs, tigers, giraffes, orang utans, lions, frogs, and rhino, are among the animals Woosnam has chosen to feature. Her largest piece, Kereru (native wood pigeon), will be auctioned off on opening night (Thursday, 5 June) to the highest bidder. Visit www.aucklandzoo.co.nz to view this painting, and examples of her other work.

“Justine’s works are outstanding, and anyone who is familiar with some of our iconic animals, will appreciate just how brilliantly she has captured their essence,” says Auckland Zoo conservation officer Peter Fraser.

“Creating these works has taken months of creative work. The end result is that Aucklanders have a fantastic opportunity to purchase some great art. At the same time, they’ll be helping to save New Zealand native frogs – among the most evolutionary distinct and critically endangered amphibians on the planet,” says Mr Fraser. Money from the event will also help other endangered amphibians from around the world

Art for Conservation opening night (Thursday 5 June, 5.30pm to 7.30pm) is a free event featuring live music with The Blackbird Strings. Numbers are limited so register to attend, phone (09) 360 3805 by 30 May. From 6 to 8 June artworks can be viewed at the zoo’s Old Elephant House from 11am to 3pm. Normal Zoo admission prices apply on these days.


Notes to the editor:

Amphibian Ark (AArk) 2008 Year of the Frog

After thriving for 360 million years, a third of the world’s 6300 amphibian species are now threatened with extinction due to the deadly disease, amphibian chytrid fungus, habitat loss, pollution, introduced (pest) species, and climate change. In response to the crisis, the World Conservation Union and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums have formed Amphibian Ark (AArk). AArk is undertaking to raise $US50 million to globally rescue endangered frogs and breed them in captive facilities until the threats in wild populations can be controlled. It will also assist conservation efforts to conserve species in the wild, and invest in research to address amphibian diseases. Auckland Zoo and the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund is part of these efforts.

Topping the list as the most evolutionary distinct and critically endangered is New Zealand’s own native Archey’s frog, for which Auckland Zoo has a dedicated breeding and research centre. New Zealand’s other three frog species – Hamilton’s, Maud Island, and Hochstetter’s all fall within the top 100 most threatened amphibians. For more about frog conservation at Auckland Zoo, visit: www.aucklandzoo.co.nz. Also visit www.nzfrogs.co.nz www.edgeofexistence.org and www.amphibianark.org

About Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund

Established in 2000, the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund (AZCF) supports in-the-field conservation projects for endangered animals, both locally and internationally. Among projects AZCF supports are: ‘Ark in the Park’ (Waitakere Ranges), Amphibian Ark 2008 Year of the Frog, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project (Sumatra), 21st Century Tiger (Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra), Cheetah Outreach (South Africa) and Turtle Conservation Centre (Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam).


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