Friday, May 18, 2012

Wild at Heart: The Waldrapp Ibis

Over the next week, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited at May 26th's "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

Christina Mrozik "Brilliance"

The Waldrapp Ibis or Northern Bald Ibis has iridescent black plumage that flashes green and purple, a featherless head framed by a flamboyant spiky crest, and a long curving red bill. The bald ibis mostly eats lizards and beetles, using its long beak to probe the earth for snacks. A migratory bird, it forages in semi-arid coastal steppe and breeds on undisturbed cliff ledges.

For millions of years, the bald ibis ranged over the Middle East, northern Africa and southern Europe. Revered as a holy bird in ancient Egypt, it was viewed as a reincarnation of Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Though it has been a protected species in Austria since 1504, it disappeared from Europe over 300 years ago. In recent years, its numbers have been decimated by loss of foraging habitat and widespread use of pesticides. Today there are believed to be about 500 bald ibises living in the wild in southern Morocco and fewer than 10 in Syria. Over 1,000 live in captivity in zoos around the world, and recently, reintroduction programs using captive-raised birds have begun in Turkey, Austria, Spain and northern Morocco.

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