Today in Longreads, a chapter from Elena Passarello’s important new book Animals Strike Curious Poses featuring illustrations by The Last Menagerie:
“The same year, two administrators of a Georgia convalescent center wrote the editor of the journal Nature, soliciting a name for an organism that marks the last of its kind. Among the suggestions were “terminarch,” “ender,” “relict,” “yatim,” and “lastline,” but the new word that stuck was “endling.” Of all the proposed names, it is the most diminutive (like “duckling” or “ ngerling”) and perhaps the most storied (like “End Times”). The little sound of it jingles like a newborn rattle, which makes it doubly sad.”
Last year I designed a set of commemorative plates honoring extinct animals. The most recent of the set is The Black African Rhino. Above the name I wrote Ext. 2011, the “Ext” for extinct is a play on historic plaques. That date is incorrect though. The Black African Rhino or Western Black Rhino actually went extinct in 2010, but was officially announced by the IUCN in 2011. Until I started this project, I didn’t know much about these animals or the circumstances of their extinction. I was really struck to find that in many instances, animals that were once abundant, were actually more likely to go extinct. For scientists, it seems that the specific details of each species and subspecies’ extinction are difficult to pin down (so to speak). After all, the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker continues to exist in this weird limbo between critically endangered, mythical, and possibly extinct. Seems like we only hear about the extinct species with names like “Martha,” the last Passenger Pigeon, or “Lonesome George,” the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, or the stories that accompany their struggle for survival like the Pyrenean Ibex. Maybe because the “last” in the case of the Black African Rhinoceros was not named, it’s not surprising that the news of its extinction made the rounds across social media this week with the groundbreaking headline that it had just become extinct. I think this says less about how we are terrible fact-checking pseudo-journalists and more about our alienation from the natural world. Maybe the take away is that people are genuinely saddened by the erosion of biodiversity. That’s a hopeful thought—that’s something we can build on.
++SNOW DAY SPECIAL++
From January 27th-January 30th
$10 off all orders until January 30th!!
*Alistair dog not included
After reading about the role that 19th century museums played in ensuring The Great Auk’s extinction (each museum wanted the endangered Auk to display, thus ensuring their demise) I just had to add on to the avian/mammal menagerie honoring The Great Auk, Steller’s Sea Cow, The California Grizzly Bear, and the Thylacine.
I also had several requests for a Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, so although I really wanted to branch out into the amphibian class, I just couldn’t neglect this set. I’m also experimenting with a monochromatic background on these so we will see how they turn out. This set will be sold in a set of four with options to mix and match with the original series. Also, going forward, I will be donating 10% of all sales to the Wildlife Conservation Network http://wildnet.org/
The Last Menagerie is honored to be included in the Dec/Jan Ultimate Survival Holiday Guide issue of Bust Magazine!
Also, The Last Menagerie is proud to announce that 10% of sales will go to Wildlife Conservation Network!!! http://wildnet.org/
Since opening The Last Menagerie shop this summer, I’ve sold several plates as wedding gifts and one set for a baby shower. My kind of people.
The plates remain rare and conceptual art objects that are more than appropriate to mark an array of occasions.
And nothing says FOREVER like extinction.