Friday, October 19, 2018

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Twelve days of animals: Project marries Christmas song, NatGeo's Photo Ark

Project marries popular Christmas song, NatGeo’s Photo Ark

  • con-Sifaka-122317

    A critically endangered diademed sifaka is photographed at Lemuria Land in Madagascar. The creatures are capable of bounding from tree to tree at up to 18 miles per hour.

    National Geographic Society photo by Joel Sartore

  • con-Koalas-122317

    Augustine, a mother koala, is photographed with her young ones Gus and Rupert (one is adopted and one is her own offspring) at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Newborn koalas climb into their mother’s back-facing pouch and don’t leave it for six months.

    National Geographic Society photo by Joel Sartore

  • con-Penguins-122317

    Five chinstrap penguins are shown at Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. They are social animals known to congregate together by the thousands on small Antarctic islands.

    National Geographic Society photo by Joel Sartore

  • Kuether-Taylor-122317


    Contributed photo

Forget leaping lords, milking maids and partridges perched in pear trees.

This Christmas, 2014 UW-Eau Claire graduate Taylor Kuether dreamed up a more exotic take on the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” celebrated in song.

It involves a virtual Noah’s rrk full of animals.  

Kuether, program manager for social media engagement at National Geographic Society since February, pitched an idea to her team of marrying the “12 Days of Christmas” with NatGeo’s Photo Ark project in which photographer Joel Sartore seeks to photograph every species on the planet living in human care.

Sartore, who began the project in 1995 as a way to keep taking photos but stay close to home after his wife fell ill with cancer, is a little over 60 percent of the way to his goal, having visited 40 countries to photograph 7,407 species so far. (His wife, by the way, is fully recovered.) The result is a national treasure of nature photos from around the world.

The portraits, mostly staged with either a plain black or white background, are intended to serve “as an important record of each animal’s existence and a powerful testament to the importance of saving them,” the global nonprofit declares.

Kuether’s idea — to share one of Sartore’s magnificent photos on social media every day for 12 days over the holidays — has been a hit, with USA Today recently calling the concept “a 12 days roundup that doesn’t require purchasing clothing or electronics you might never use.”

It does, however, make it almost impossible not to smile at nature’s magnificence and the clever lyrics created by Kuether and her team.

“The Photo Ark, aimed at photographing all species living in zoos and sanctuaries in a way that moves viewers to connect with and care about them, really lends itself to a project like this,” said Kuether, who worked part time as a Leader-Telegram reporter while attending UW-Eau Claire. “Because the Photo Ark is so long-running and prolific, we had the critical mass needed to choose 12 photos of 12 groups of animals. Most importantly, ‘12 Days of Photo Ark’ is light, fun and accessible, something I think we all need right now, especially during the holidays.”

Here’s a recent sample of lyrics for those whose holiday spirit has them looking for any excuse to sing along:

“On the sixth day of Photo Ark, Joel Sartore gave to me, six opossums snuggling, five chinstrap penguins, four coyote pups, three koalas cuddling, two six-banded armadillos and a diademed sifaka in a tree.”

Each post presents a little background about the species of the day and lists the zoo or wildlife sanctuary where they are kept.

You can check out this photo archive of global biodiversity by going to the National Geographic Photo Ark page on Facebook.

But be forewarned: You may feel compelled to make a new year’s resolution to take action to help save the world’s amazing species before it’s too late.

Contact: 715-833-9209,, @ealscoop on Twitter

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