World Wildlife: Extinction Voices

In August 2019, we veiled Alfred the Gorilla and 31 other animals in our World Wildlife gallery so we could begin to comprehend a world without these extraordinary creatures.

 

All 32 animals are threatened with high to extreme risk of extinction.

We did this in response to a report released by IPBES in May 2019. It revealed that one million species are threatened with extinction because of humans – many within decades.

It’s not too late for us to make a difference.

We wanted to inspire people to think about what we can all do to protect these unique and precious animals.

The histories of some of our animals were told for the first time, including our tiger which was shot by King George V in Nepal, 1911. This glimpse of the past is vital to understanding what is happening today.

“Nature is noisy. It walks, it crawls, it swims, it swoops, it buzzes. But extinction is silent. It has no voice except our own.”

Paul Hawken, environmentalist

Ann and Henry were constant companions during their life at Bristol Zoo. When Ann died aged 11, Henry would not leave her side.

They were bought from the wild in 1947 aged between one and two years old. Bristol newspapers reported them trying on hats during the Ascot horse races, and being given warm goat’s milk to keep out flu.

Henry is reunited with Ann in the gallery for the first time in decades.

Image: Ann (left) and Henry (right) when they first arrived at Bristol Zoo © Bristol Zoo Gardens Archive (Thanks to Librarian Siobhan Klaus)

What do scientists say?

 

“Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals alive. They have the longest childhood, are the most solitary great apes and are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet.

These qualities help make them both very special and high risk for conservation threats.

I’ve been lucky to work with orangutans in the wild. It breaks my heart to think, unless we save them, they may all be gone within the next few years.”

Professor Ben Garrod, Evolutionary biologist and broadcaster