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All Aboard The Photo Ark! At UO’s Museum of Natural History

cotton-top tamarin.jpg
Joel Sartore/National Geographic
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The cotton-top tamarin, also called the cotton-headed tamarin, is native to a very small region of northwestern Colombia. Its limited distribution stretches from the Atrato River to the Magdalena River. These uniquely colored, clever primates are found in both humid and dry tropical forests. They are arboreal, so they can be seen leaping and scurrying through the canopy.

A world-class photography exhibit by a visionary National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has slipped into Eugene under the guise of a life science display at UO’s Museum of Natural History.

Sartore’s ambitious project is to photograph all the world’s 15,000 captive species called The Photo Ark. Sartore hopes the portraits will inspire people to care while there is still time to save these largely endangered species.

Fennec Fox.jpg
Joel Sartore/National Geographic
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Stock
FENNEC FOX, SAINT LOUIS ZOO The smallest foxes in the world have enormous ears to cool them down as they traverse sand dunes in the Sahara, where they are common. Their cuteness makes them attractive to the wild-pet trade.

Each of the portraits lists the creature’s status or risk of extinction, but it is the faces that reach out and grab you by the heart and mind.

One of my favorites is Reimann’s Snake-Necked Turtle. In spite of its snaky name, this fellow is turning toward the camera with two bright, round, curious eyes and a huge smile that makes me want to smile back. It lives in the Atlanta Zoo, and its status is near-threatened.

Sartore does most of his photography of these disappearing animals in zoos, and this exhibition shows him going lens to nose with a grinning Dwarf Caiman. In another image, a Clouded Leopard cub tries to crawl up his head like any other playful kitten. A black and white sifaka curls up inside itself and looks directly out at the world with no thought that it and its kind are endangered.

Florida Panther.jpeg
Joel Sartore/National Geographic
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This Florida Panther's agate-clear eyes look upward to an uncertain future, ears lopsided, his expression seeming to say more eloquently than the signage that his species is endangered and likely not long for this earth.

Perhaps most startling and moving to me is an unusual view of a Florida Panther. His agate-clear eyes look upward to an uncertain future, ears lop-sided, his expression seeming to say more eloquently than the signage that his species is endangered and likely not long for this earth.

I urge you to visit The Photo Ark while it is here. It is a rare opportunity to see some of the finest wildlife photography in the world, while also immersing yourself in a finer-grained understanding of the critically important story each has to tell if we listen with eyes and hearts open.

sifaka national-geographic-photo-ark-joel-sartore-2.jpeg
Joel Sartore/National Geographic
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A black and white sifaka curls up inside itself and looks directly out at the world with no thought that it and its kind are endangered.

This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.

Sandy Brown Jensen has an MFA in Poetry and is a retired writing instructor from Lane Community College. She is an artist and a photographer with a lifetime interest in looking at and talking about art. Sandy hosts KLCC's long-running arts review program Viz City.
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