This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.
Of the 13 great Whale species, 7 are are endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are succumbing to new and ever-increasing dangers. Collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear threaten the North Atlantic Right Whale with extinction, while the critically endangered Western North Pacific Gray Whale is at serious risk because of intensive oil and gas development in its feeding grounds. There are fears that the widespread use of sonar is causing whales to panic, either beaching themselves or surfacing too rapidly, which leads to potentially fatal decompression sickness. Alarm is also growing over other hazards, including toxic contamination, the effects of climate change and habitat degradation.
Born Free advocates against keeping marine mammals such as dolphins and orcas in marine parks, where they are doomed to a life of confinement and are forced to perform degrading tricks that run counter to their natural instincts. Last year, Born Free completed the rehabilitation of two dolphins rescued from a filthy swimming pool in Turkey. For 20 months, they were cared for and taught to hunt live fish on their own, then returned to the wilds of the Aegean Sea from which they had been taken as babies. To prevent cruelty of this kind from continuing, Born Free is calling for an international ban on the capture of wild dolphins. In the United States, Born Free protests against the dolphin exhibit at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, where more than a dozen dolphins have died in since its opening in 1990.