Thursday, September 30, 2010

Speaking For Animals

Tiger ©anneberry
A child who stutters and cannot speak to people can speak to animals. Dr. Alan Rabinowitz spoke on The Cobert Report about the impact of his childhood visits to the Bronx Zoo. As a child Rabinowitz had a severe stutter, and while he had difficulty talking to people, he could talk to animals. He promised the animals, especially the big cats, that he would be their voice and try to save them. Today Dr Rabinowitz is a leading conservationist and founder of the world’s first Jaguar preserve. All of his conservation projects are documented on his web site, Panthera.  Listening to Dr. Rabinowitz makes me think how vital it are that there are people like him willing to be a voice for the animals.

In a smaller but still significant way a photograph can also speak for animals. This year I am going to take photographs with Baboon Matters in Cape Town and the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education in Phalaborwa, and I hope to use the photographs to help the Chacma Baboons of South Africa.

In today’s society pets are pampered and anthropomorphized, but wild animals are often overlooked and dismissed. I take photographs of animals to get people to consider them and to feel empathy for them. The Hey Hot Shot blog states that in my Menagerie series I create “concentrated portraits of monkeys, bears, rhinos, baboons and myriad other creatures, each with the seriousness and focus of someone who has utmost respect for animals and their emotions.” My photographs are about the beauty of the animals but also about their plight. The pictorial quality of the images softens the shock, but the punch is there in the eyes and expressions of the animals. One collector wrote: “the forlorn, soulful monkey/ape was lovely. It filled me with many feelings, some unidentifiable.”  The animals ask questions for which there are no easy answers, but silently they are asking us to consider them.