By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Shot over an 18-month period, the following series of breathtaking images taken by Art Xanthopoulos, show the beautiful connection between animals as well as the human-like nature of some of the most endangered animals in the world.
Art, 44, said: “The images are designed to show the connection and bond between offspring and adults directly and indirectly within their community and across all the species photographed.”
Taken at Melbourne Zoo, Australia, the series shows apes cradling their young, orangutans kissing and lions embracing. The project was created by photographer Art to raise awareness of the importance and dangers of the animals becoming endangered.
The Melbourne based photographer said: “As with my previous work, the images are also designed to showcase the ‘humanism’ of the great apes and in doing so help bring to the fore the plight these animals face in the wild. Some species like the Sumatran orangutan and western lowland gorilla remain on the critically endangered list.
“Melbourne zoo participates in a worldwide captive breeding program designed to curb the threat of extinction for these animals and bring to light the environmental threats.”
She added: “Another reason for why I photograph these animals is to help send a message to my audience that we, as consumers, have a direct effect on the habitats of these animals, like the Sumatran orangutan, through our choice of food products with sustainable palm oil as opposed to unsustainable palm oil. Palm oil plantations in Sumatra often result in the destruction of the orangutans and tigers natural habitat with a direct result being these animals becoming endangered.”
Art’s beautifully detailed photos feature the Sumatran tiger, which is classed as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, with numbers in the wild falling.
Threats include habitat loss as palm oil plantations are extended through their natural range, hunting for traditional medicine and loss of prey.
Having visited Melbourne Zoo many times over the years, Art decided to photograph them to show viewers that they are more than just zoo animals.
She said: “When people view the images, my hope is that they will see these animals as more than just animals in a zoo and take the time to understand the risks they face due to human encroachment on their habitats.
“In so doing I hope that they will then demand more from food companies and the government towards accurate food labelling. Only then can we, as consumers, understand that our choices impact on the survival of these species.”