I Stand with Big Cats

Today, everyday all cats big and small. If you haven’t posted your picture yet please take to Instagram, Facebook, twitter or Snap chat to show your support of our wonderful and wild feline friends. I specifically picked a photo taken a few years ago with P-22 mountain lion in L.A. (not the real one his famous cardboard cut out). While I love (aka am obsessed with all wildcats) it seems that we here in North America forget that mountain lions like all wildcats elsewhere are victims of habitat loss, human population growth, human/wildlife conflict and conflict with livestock. Additionally, they fall prey to outdated myths resulting in heavy persecution from hunting and trapping (even here in Canada). We now know so much more about these mysterious and once very misunderstood cats, but we have a long way to go. Even with ground breaking research like that of Panthera’s Puma Program they continue to be treated/viewed like they were centuries ago. We know better we should be doing better, our ‘big cat’ deserves our respect and protection.

Mountain lions do not receive the protection or even consideration like African lions or most of the other big cats, they are unfortunately considered of “least concern” despite the fact that there numbers overall are declining. What are we waiting for? We cannot protect or save what is not there. While we continue to fight for all wildcats elsewhere we cannot ignore what goes on in our own backyard, we must continue to push for more humane ways to co-exist with them.

‘Lead by example. What better way to show other countries how to live alongside predators?’

Happy #WorldWildlifeDay @pantheracats Today & everyday #IStandWithBigCats . . I have specifically picked this photo taken a few years ago with the most famous mountain lion in the world #p22mountainlion because he represents the struggles that North America's lion is facing. We often forget that just like big cats elsewhere, these 'big cats' are victims of habitat loss, human population growth, human/wildlife conflict & conflict with livestock. Additionally, they fall prey to outdated myths resulting in heavy persecution from hunting & trapping (even here in Canada). We now know so much more about these mysterious & once very misunderstood cats, but we have a long way to go. They deserve our respect & protection . . While we continue to fight for all wildcats elsewhere we cannot ignore what goes on in our own backyard. Vital to healthy ecosystems we must continue to push for more humane ways to co-exist with them . . What better way to show other countries how to live alongside predators than leading by example? . . #PredatorsUnderThreat #WWD2018 #Mountainlions #puma #catamount #cougars #betheirvoice #savelions #apexpredator #leadbyexample #wildlifeconservation #endpoaching #actforcats #BigCats #lovecats #caturday #wildlife #conservation #panthera

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From one of my favorite accounts/photographers, Robert Martinez/Parliament Of Owls comes amazing footage of a mountain lion mom known as Limpy and her three kittens in California – a place that is trying its best to learn how to coexist with North America’s largest cat.

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World Wildlife Day

The theme of this years World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3, is very special as it focuses on the big cats. While everyday is a celebration of the big cats here at Purr and Roar it is thrilling to see these magnificent, and in most cases highly endangered, species finally get the much needed attention. A vital part of our natural world and embedded in our history, culture, and imagination there is simply nothing that comes close to the big cats, nothing so magical, beautiful or engaging and, whatever you think you will find it hard not to have some sort of opinion on them. If we would like them to be part of our future, and not a distant memory or just some mention in a history book, we must act swiftly and without hesitation to protect them.

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“Big cats: predators under threat” is a long overdue and serious look at the major pressures that various wildcats are facing across the globe.

The most recognizable species on earth faces many threats like habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, hunting, illegal wildlife trade, conflicts with livestock, conflict with humans, climate change and the growing human population. These threats are so pressing that we have already seen drastic declines in species like African lions, tigers and cheetahs just to name a few. The one thing they all have in common is us – no matter where we live each person now decides, by our actions or lack of, what species lives and what species vanishes.

“In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species. Through World Wildlife Day big cats will generate the level of attention they all deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come.”

The International Big Cats Film Festival is also being held in New York on March 2 and 3 to coincide with World Wildlife Day celebrations and will highlight the Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, Jaguar, Leopard, Lion, Puma, Snow Leopard and Tiger. The finalist list of films are in six categories: Issues and Solutions, Conservation Heroes, People and Big Cats, Science and Behavior, ​Micro-Movie, and Local Voices. The winners will be revealed at the World Wildlife Day celebration at UN Headquarters in New York City on March 2.​

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If you can’t be in New York there are many ways to celebrate and show your support by joining an event near you, or participating via social media. There are a whole list of outreach materials available that individuals, countries and organizations can use for free to show support for big cats and help get the message across. The materials are available in different languages and people are encouraged to share them on social media along with facts that are provided in the social media kit with the following hashtags: #WorldWildlifeDay #PredatorsUnderThreat #iProtectBigCats #WWD2018 and #BigCats.

Panthera, the only organization dedicated to the conservation of the worlds 40 wildcat species and their ecosystems, is encouraging everyone to participate by snapping a selfie with the nearest big cat statue, mascot, logo, or other icon and sharing it on social media with the hashtag #IStandWithBigCats.

Wherever you live I hope that you will take the time acknowledge our amazing wild felines  and show your support for them on World Wildlife Day and everyday!

Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths

From one of my favorite blogs, prehistoric cats and beautiful illustrations from paleo-artist Mauricio Antón. I love his work and this piece in particular has an important and timely message!

“Now as you look to the assembly of magnificent carnivorans from the Miocene of Batallones, just imagine your grandchildren facing a similar illustration, but showing the lion, leopard, wolf, lynx, polar bear… by then completely extinct in the wild. Imagine the desolation of knowing that there is nowhere in the world where lions or tigers reign as sabertooths reigned in the distant past. Today those places still exist but if one day they disappear it will be, at least in part, because of our own idleness. Just by having a clear opinion and making it heard, or through our vote, we can make a difference. But trying to convince ourselves that extinction doesn´t matter is perhaps the ultimate sign of cowardice, and thinking that future generations will not be aware enough of their loss to reproach us is the farthest thing from a consolation. We need the fossils in the museums and the living predators out in the wild. Each thing in its place!”

I remember well the first excavations at the fossil site of Batallones-1, over a quarter of a century ago. After some teeth of the saber-tooth cat Promegantereon appeared at the site it seemed likely that, for the first time ever, a complete skull of the mysterious animal could be found. Back then, that possibility excited […]

via Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths

A Bride and Her Cat

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your cat included in your wedding celebration? Not the actual ceremony of course, but something more permanent, and agreeable to the cat, that would last beyond the actual day and remain frozen in time along with all of the other wonderful memories. Marianna Zampieri, a photographer and cat lover based in Italy, started offering her clients this very service and the opportunity to share their special day with their beloved feline family member.

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© Marianna Zampieri

After Marianna included her own adopted cat Arthur, whom she describes as her “greatest passion and favorite model”, in a series of her own wedding photos her friends fell in love with them and soon started requesting the same experience at their own weddings.

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© Marianna Zampieri

There are no rules and Marianna never forces a cat to do something that it does not want to do. The photos are all spontaneous and the cats do what pleases them at the moment.

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© Marianna Zampieri

Marianna says that she can never predict the outcome of her photo shoots so she simply becomes a spectator that documents what unfolds. To ensure that her cat clients always feel comfortable she goes to the clients home and, by looking at her pictures you can clearly see that comfort as well as the deep love of the human-cat bond that exists.

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© Marianna Zampieri

Marianna’s photography encompass more than weddings and she has many wonderful galleries showcasing her different projects – currently she is working on cats at work and cats in Venice. In addition Marianna manages a Facebook page dedicated to adoptions and food collection for cat colonies in her area.

To see more of her photography, which I highly recommend, please visit her photography website and her Facebook page Cats in Venice.

*February 28, 2018 – update made, Marianna is not working on a project about stray cats and those who volunteer to help them, her current projects include cats at work and cats in Venice.

Photo Ark

There is something special about wildlife photography and for many reasons it has always been my favorite genre of photography. Capturing the essence of wildlife on film is both magical and powerful, the images can help convey a message as well as connect people to wildlife by inspiring awe, action, and even empathy. It’s these elements that help make wildlife photography and in particular conservation photography an important tool for teaching people about wildlife conservation. In a world where many species are now rare, endangered, or in many cases headed for extinction, each photograph taken has become a portrait or permanent record, in essence a type of living digital fossil that tells a story while there is still time to save the species.

Joel Sartore Wildlife photographer, National Geographic Photographer and National Geographic Photo Ark founder has taken the task of documenting the worlds most rare and or endangered species to the ultimate level by creating thousands of portraits of animals that reside in human care in zoos and sanctuaries around the world. This multi-year project hopes to continue to document, raise awareness and find solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting wildlife and their habitats. Photo Ark aims to do this by inspiring “action through education” and by helping to save wildlife by “supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts”. Joel’s work with the Photo Ark began over a decade ago and to date he has photographed over 7,000 species. Once the Photo Ark is complete he will have created portraits of an estimated 12,000 species, but importantly the project will serve as a  “record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them.”

The photos are instantly recognizable as each animal from the smallest to the largest and most charismatic are represented equally with nothing more than a simple black or white backdrop. With no distractions the viewer must focus on the intended subject as well as the message that lies behind the eyes staring back.

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© Photo by GRAHM S. JONES, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM
‘After a photo shoot at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, a clouded leopard cub climbs on Sartore’s head. The leopards, which live in Asian tropical forests, are illegally hunted for their spotted pelts.’  Image © Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark natgeophotoark.org

Being a fan of Joel’s work, one of my personal favorites is the portrait of Uno an endangered Florida Panther who was blinded by a gunshot wound, I was excited to have the chance to hear him speak recently at the Royal Ontario Museum as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Keynote. Joel has a reputation for being a phenomenal speaker and he did not disappoint, he was engaging, entertaining, passionate and extremely inspirational.

His talk included stories full of humor and hope while others were more serious, the conservation stories of species that we still may have time to save and others that it is already too late for. Some of his portraits would be the last the world would see of these animals and that, a profound message, should resonate deeply on an emotional and spiritual level with anyone concerned for the state of biodiversity on our planet.

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© Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark
‘An endangered Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, at Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.’             Image National Geographic Photo Ark natgeophotoark.org

His photography for The National Geographic Photo Ark involves captive animals so there is a strong affiliation with zoos and, as the topic of zoos has become extremely controversial I did appreciate Joel acknowledging this in his talk, however I personally did not agree with the statement that zoos are necessarily better at providing for wildlife than proper wildlife sanctuaries. This is one point I really wished he had somewhat expanded on considering that there has been such a strong backlash against zoos with stories of healthy animals being killed or evidence that many have inadequate and inhumane conditions in which their animals are kept. Perhaps zoos in some cases provide a purpose in conservation of some species for future re-introductions, but ultimately preserving habitat and ways of keeping species alive in that habitat currently should be an equally important message or at least included in the discussion.

I was however pleasantly surprised to hear Joel comment on the impact of livestock when talking about some of the biggest threats to wildlife conservation, perhaps one the least talked about issues, after human population. This was the slide he used to demonstrate his point, which is just as powerful as any of the animal portraits. It is a reminder that everything is connected and clearly our choices have a lot of power so talking about our eating habits on top of the other issues, must be part of the discussion as it has a direct connection to the loss of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

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Photo taken at the ROM Wildlife Photographer of the Year Keynote: Photo Ark – Image © Photo Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

A few things I have always strongly believed in were mentioned as well, one is that he suggests people would also benefit by doing their own research on the issues. The other is that change really comes from within and he encourages everyone, adults and young people, to do something – to find something they want to do to help and do it.

The National Geographic Photo Ark is meant to inspire and to get people to think more critically which is important if humanity wishes to save wildlife, our planet and ultimately ourselves. It shows us that the beautiful art of photography can help save wildlife but it must also be accompanied by a shift in how we view our role in their survival.

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© Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark
‘A federally endangered Florida panther, Puma concolor coryi, at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.’    Image National Geographic Photo Ark natgeophotoark.org

With the thousands of rare and endangered animals photographed you may wonder what Joel could possibly have to look forward to when he has already seen so much? No need to worry he has not lost his enthusiasm and remarked at the end of his talk that he is always excited about the “next animal to photograph”.

To find out more about Joel and The National Geographic Photo Ark, how to help or get involved visit NatGeoPhotoArk.org

Holiday Greetings

Possibly one of the cutest and charming Holiday Greetings, sent out by Big Cat Rescue, involves birds and a lynx with some serious skills. I absolutely fell in love with this and had to share. The animated video is by Blue Zoo Animation and was done for Big Cat Rescue and Felidae Conservation Fund to bring awareness to the work the organizations are doing to help wildcats.

Lynx and birds is a timely story about love triumphing over fear, we created a short festive animation that would rival any Christmas advert in the cuteness stakes!

Wishing all humans and wild creatures a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!

Let’s Talk About Your Cat!

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To help bring 2017 to a close Let’s Talk About Your Cat features three famous internet cats and my friend Laura Kicey of Olive & Rye Cat Art. Laura currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her partner Michael and her three cats Olive, Rye and newest addition Fig. When she isn’t busy being the social media manager for her feline trio, Laura works as a freelance graphic designer, photographer and illustrator. In addition she is also the creative force behind Kittydelphia, an annual cat-themed pop-up shop event in Philly.

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Left to right: Olive, Fig and Rye

How did Olive & Rye Cat Art come about?

It really started to develop not long after I made an Instagram account for Olive and Rye, in October 2014, about two months after we adopted them. I just wanted to post photos of them and not overwhelm friends who followed my other (non-cat) photography work. Their account following took off pretty quickly and by June 2015 we had 10k followers. I was also building my business as a cat portrait artist around their account and meeting clients through other cat accounts on Instagram. It grew over the years and I attended many cat-centric events and met lots of fellow cat enthusiasts as well as people who were also in the “cat biz” who became great friends.

I was meeting people and drawing their cats for fun and other people saw them on Instagram and asked me to draw their cats as well. It was getting a bit overwhelming so I decided to open an Etsy shop to accommodate the requests and it took off. I’ve probably drawn around 350 cats since I started and, though it is a bit hard on my heart sometimes I still find it very special to be able to do memorial portraits. Making something that moves people, especially through a shared love of kitties is pretty awesome. In addition to custom portraits I make other cat art and housewares, apparel, and accessories featuring my art.

Tell us about your cats

Our oldest cat Olive is about 4 to 5 years old. We suspect she was raised by dogs or maybe by possums because she doesn’t know how to be a cat or even meow. Olive is very gentle, rather awkward, a bit nervous and bewildered by everything. She is also extremely lazy except for an hour per day when she is activated, during that time she is a complete maniac, galloping around the house, attacking rugs and waving her paws around dramatically. She doesn’t really like being held but she is very into sitting on laps, in particular my lap, and receiving belly rubs.

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Olive is a small calico alien although she is often described as a domestic shorthair, but she is definitely mostly alien.”

Our middle child cat Rye is about 3 and a half years old now. Rye is a tortoiseshell domestic shorthair and the biggest of all our cats at the moment. Of all the cats I have ever had in my life, she is the most “normal” and also is incredibly sweet, chatty, and gentle.

Let's Talk About Your Cat, Purr and Roar, Olive and Rye, Cat Art, Laura Kicey, Cats in Art,

“She loves being held and hugged and riding on shoulders.”

Our newest and youngest Fig, is about 7 months old now. Fig is also a tortie domestic shorthair and looks like she is aiming to be gigantic as she is already 8lbs 8oz.  She is obsessed with water and loves to watch me in the shower from the edge of the tub or from between the shower liner and curtain. She will jump in the tub when I am done to play with the water dripping and puddles, then she enjoys getting a blow-dry. She is completely fearless and very chatty – always has something important on her mind she needs to share.
Let's Talk About Your Cat, Purr and Roar, Olive and Rye, Cat Art, Laura Kicey, Cats in Art,

“For a still-kitteny-cat, Fig is pretty calm and loves to cuddle, but it turns out she is a huge drama queen. She has the biggest mouth and is always chatting and whining – such a little showboat!”

How did your cats come into your life?

I had my first cat, Maggie, for 14 years when she died at age 17 back in 2014. I adopted another cat, Hazel, right after losing Maggie, but sadly Hazel died from cancer six months after we adopted her. It had been a very bad year and while it was extremely difficult, I still wanted to have a cat in my life. We started looking at adoptable cats online and I was hoping to find a cat around 3 to 4 years old. Michael showed me a photo of Olive (then Minnie) on the Philly PAWS site and I was taken, but we saw some others that we thought were cute too. I applied to adopt through PAWS and planned on keeping an open mind.

Let's Talk About Your Cat, Purr and Roar, Olive and Rye, Cat Art, Laura Kicey, Cats in Art,

“I had always been very drawn to calico cats, my previous cats Hazel and Maggs both were calicoes, and Olive was just so unique looking with her huge green eyes.”

Olive was estimated at 1 to 2 years old when we met her, she was napping and very calm. Michael had been wandering around looking at other cats when he was literally grabbed by a little tortie from between the bars of her cage, he begged me to take her to the back room so we could meet her. Even though Rye (then Nittnay) was only 6 to 8 months old, she was also pretty calm but still playful. Michael suggested we take both of them and, when they met each other briefly at PAWS Rye was a bit hissy but we decided to take the plunge. They had to be kept apart for several weeks while we treated Olive’s URI and herpes-related eye issues but they couldn’t stop tickling each others paws under the door. When we finally introduced them, they took to each other straight away.

Let's Talk About Your Cat, Purr and Roar, Olive and Rye, Cat Art, Laura Kicey, Cats in Art,

“They were both a bit younger than I was looking for but they were both irresistible.”

Inspired by the cat centered events I had attended, I decided to make a local event for cat lovers last year and Kittydelphia was born. I invited Philly area cat-stuff makers to be vendors, I also sold my own work and merchandise there. There were also guest celebricats and daily raffles. I named PAWS as the recipient of all donations from the event and they had adoptable cats available throughout the weekend as well as kittens in foster. On the last day of Kittydelphia, I had gone into the back room and saw Michael holding a tiny tortie kitten from the foster litter attending the event. He put her in my arms as I walked by and I was done. As I was holding her, I said, this is a Fig if ever I met one! After some discussion we applied to adopt her, her foster mom had said no one else had been interested in adopting her, and were accepted. We had to wait a few weeks until after her spay to bring her home but she fit in straight away.

Let's Talk About Your Cat, Purr and Roar, Olive and Rye, Cat Art, Laura Kicey, Cats in Art,

“Rye especially took to her and now they are quite inseparable.”

What is your first memory or experience with cats?
 
Besides college I don’t think I have gone more than a few weeks without having a cat in my life. When I was very young, my mother had a big ginger tabby named Pistachio, Pooh for short. I have little memory of him but I have seen photos of us together. My main childhood cat was May, a 6lb ginger tabby girl who was my best buddy growing up. We never had multiple cats in the house so having this crew was all new for me and I love it. I’m not sure I could go back to being a one-cat girl.

Anything else people should know?

I intend to do Kittydelphia again in 2018 and I am really looking forward to growing the concept a bit. I am waiting until 2018 to make any major planning moves on that though! I am always adding things to my Etsy shop, whenever I finish up a new piece of cat art. I am really hoping to complete the alphabet cats series I started in 2017 as well!

If you would like to have your cat/s featured on Let’s Talk About Your Cat, feel free to contact me at purrandroar(at)gmail(dot)com