West Midland Safari Park

Artist Nathan Wyburn creates animal artwork to mark 50 years of West Midland Safari Park

Posted: 14th March, 2023

A giant portrait of a lion has been created by well-known artist, Nathan Wyburn, made up of hundreds of photographs of animals – including giraffes, tigers and elephants. It was commissioned to celebrate 50 years of West Midland Safari Park, which has been home to all of the animals featured in the image of the large cat, created from an original photograph taken by the park’s senior designer and photographer, Matt Lissimore.

It comes as a study of 2,000 adults found 45 per cent are clueless about which animals are on the brink of extinction – with many believing the giant panda and southern white rhino are close to disappearing from the planet forever.    

Another 37 per cent admit they know 'little' or 'nothing' about the world's most endangered species, with the average adult believing there are 13,128 vulnerable species in the wild – when there are in fact over 40,000 [www.wwf.org.uk/learn/wildlife/endangered-animals].

The Yangtze finless porpoise (14 per cent) and the vaquita (6 per cent) also featured on the list – with few respondents aware of their lack of safety.

Nearly half (48 per cent) admit they couldn't list which animals are thriving but 69 per cent would like to learn more about wildlife endangerment, with 46 per cent keen to do their bit to support conservation.

Vikki Green, Head of Marketing at West Midland Safari Park, which commissioned the research, said: “This striking image of the regal lion, combined with the report findings, really show how important our wildlife is to the planet.

“With our Park celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s vital to raise awareness of endangered species around the world and encourage people to support the cause. The Park has been home to hundreds of animals, including several critically endangered species.

“The fact there are over 40,000 species currently under threat is shocking and we must do what we can to protect our precious wildlife before it’s too late.”

The study revealed 37 per cent are keen to get involved with groups to help threatened species, with 51 per cent inspired by organisations supporting and working with endangered animals to do the same.

But sadly, 76 per cent believe the likes of climate change and the cost-of-living crisis have more recently taken priority over protecting wildlife.

It emerged 24 per cent would feel ‘helpless’ if their favourite animal became endangered and exactly a fifth would be ‘angry’.

Poaching (31 per cent), deforestation (27 per cent) and climate change (14 per cent) were cited as the top reasons responsible for the endangerment of animals, according to the OnePoll study.

As many as 75 per cent agree more needs to be done to protect the planet’s wildlife, even though 60 per cent claim it is inevitable that certain species will become extinct someday.

When it comes to the national curriculum, 52 per cent of those with children say the conversation to safeguard the world’s endangered species needs to be a bigger focus.

And 24 per cent feel regretful at the thought of their child never having the chance to see their favourite animal if they became extinct.

Vikki Green added: “It’s good to see adults and children aware of the current situation and that more action is needed to protect animals.

“Since opening 50 years ago, our Park has seen over 30 million visitors, we’ve supported numerous successful conservation programmes and we’ve been lucky to be able to contribute to breeding programmes such as the EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP). Animals born in our care help conserve healthy populations of wildlife while safeguarding their genetic health.

“If you’re planning a family trip this spring, then visiting a collection such as ours is a great way to learn about wildlife while also getting involved in the wider community to help protect our planet’s precious creatures.

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