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EXHIBITION COMING 2024

Prints, postcards, T-shirts,

big spaces, bigger dreams

bangkok zoo exhibit poster copy.jpg

(draft of captions to be printed on office A4 paper and stuck to wall next to prints)

Hedgehogs in Chinatown

 

You won’t be surprised to find out the disappearance of hedges have negatively impacted the habitat of these hogs. 

 

The spiky, nocturnal, lactose intolerant creatures that have thrived on Earth for nearly 60 million years – making them one of the oldest surviving mammals – have been labeled ‘vulnerable to extinction’ across their native Europe. 

 

The expansion of monoculture farmland, the widespread use of insecticides, and ever-growing urban human developments are all behind hedgehog decline. Their insectivore diet – feeding primarily on insects – also exposes them to great risk as those insect populations are declining dramatically in the climate crisis.



 

Blue whale in Ekkamai

 

A century ago at least 100,000 blue whales roamed the world’s oceans. Due to hunting by humans and the effect of degraded ecosystems (ocean noise, busy shipping routes, entanglement in fishing gear), their population has fallen to an estimated 10,000 individuals. 

 

As the largest animal that has ever lived, blue whales throw their weight around by playing a critical role in maintaining the equilibrium of their environment. Without a healthy population, the krill on which they feed would multiply exponentially – in turn those krill would deplete the populations of phytoplankton and algae they feed on, causing an imbalance across the marine world.

 

Fun fact: blue whales are so huge and interesting there are too many fun facts about them to fit onto a caption tab at an art exhibition. We could have an exhibition just about blue whale facts! Who would come to that though. Maybe for free drinks at the opening party, but beyond that, what’s the audience really. 

 

Ok fun fact: A blue whale’s tongue can weigh as much as an elephant.

 

Not so fun fact: In 1931 – a peak of the whaling years – 29,000 blue whales were killed in a single season.



 

Grizzly Bear in Talad Noi

 

Grizzly bears can hibernate up to 7 months a year, but that doesn’t mean they’re lazy. Just dreamers. What are they dreaming about? Sometimes it’s hard to guess, other times you just have to spend a moment to imagine. Fish? Their cozy den? Other bears? They might be dreaming about life itself as an abstract concept. The truth is we can never know for sure, but we do know during hibernation they don’t need to eat or drink and rarely urinate or defecate for months on end. You try it sometime!

Giraffes in Chit Lom

 

Giraffes. Everyone loves giraffes. Think of a giraffe right now, you'll only have positive thoughts. This is mostly true of most animals, and especially true of giraffes. Long necks, even longer hearts, probably. 

 

Interesting fact: giraffe necks may be long but are always just too short to reach the ground. 

 

Giraffes are faced with the devastating impacts of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and habitat degradation just the same as animals with less iconic necks. With fewer than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild, their populations have declined nearly 40% in the last 30 years.

Butterflies over Watthana

 

Habitat loss is behind the spectacular decline of butterflies around the world. Hundreds of species appear on "Red Lists” that conservation authorities make to identify endangered and vulnerable populations.

 

The iconic migratory monarch butterfly – a subspecies of one of the most recognizable of butterflies, orange wings marked with black lines, bordered with white dots, which appear in your mind instantly when you think of the word ‘butterfly’ – has become a victim of this trend. 

 

Logging and deforestation to make space for agriculture and urban development has destroyed this butterfly’s natural habitat and breeding ground across Mexico and western US. Its numbers have fallen by 99.9% – from 10 million 30 years ago to below 2,000 individuals in 2020. They rebounded to some 300,000 in 2022 but remain on the endangered lists.

 

Everybody thinks they know how butterflies arrive on the stage.

 

From the stories when you’re growing up it seems caterpillars wake up one day feeling like it’s about time to turn into a butterfly and they construct a chrysalis cocoon, like some kind of workshop sleeping bag. Manifesting themselves some wings over a few weeks, they emerge as an all-flying all-dancing butterfly. Easy. No soup. 

 

The reality is far more outlandish than you would imagine.

 

Once inside that sleeping bag workshop the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you happened to cut open a chrysalis at just the right or wrong time a caterpillar soup would ooze out. Amongst all that ooze still exist clumps of organized cells that survive the whole process, and around which rapid reorganizing takes place, butterfly wings and butterfly eyes and butterfly everything else taking shape.

 

Amazingly, studies have shown that despite the whole dissolving situation, some species can remember elements of their past life as a caterpillar, where memories survived the soup. An electric shock accompanied by an odor was presented to caterpillars in this study; after metamorphosis the newly reorganized organism still remembered to avoid that odor, to avoid the shock.

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