09/01/2020

Last chance to see Luke Jerram’s Extinction Bell at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Visitors to Bristol Zoo Gardens have a last chance to see artist Luke Jerram’s Extinction Bell this weekend (January 11 and 12).

The eye-catching bell has been on display at the Zoo since late November, tolling between 150 and 200 times a day, to raise awareness of the number of species lost to the world. 

The bell is the latest work by world-renowned installation artist Luke Jerram, who said the aim of the bell was to give people an audible representation of how often species are being lost.

The bell will be moving on to London where it will be hung within a new artwork created by Luke called The Palm Temple, which has been inspired by Brunelleschi’s dome of Florence Cathedral.

The Extinction Bell will be suspended in the apex of the dome which is described as somewhere to contemplate nature.

Bristol-based Luke said: “I was keen to work with Bristol Zoological Society to launch the Extinction Bell as they recognise the value of both animal and plant species. It also allowed me the opportunity to present the artwork to the public and get feedback about its impact.

“Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us – humans.

“In fact, 99 per cent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming.” 

The Extinction Bell has stood in the heart of Bristol Zoo near the aquarium for almost two months.

Dr Justin Morris, chief executive, said: “Conserving wildlife is a vital part of our work and we have been thrilled to host Luke’s Extinction Bell.

“It is a tangible and audible reminder of the damage that is being caused to our planet that we need to stop happening.”

Bristol Zoological Society owns and runs Bristol Zoo Gardens and works to protect 18 animal species in 10 countries around the world.

The Society is also involved with more than 93 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species.

Many of the species Bristol Zoological Society works to protect are Critically Endangered, facing very high threat of extinction in the near future.

These include the little-known Desertas wolf spider from Madeira and the western lowland gorilla from west-central Africa, whose numbers in the wild have declined by more than 60 per cent over the last 20 to 25 years.

In the UK, the Zoo is also spearheading a programme to breed and reintroduce the globally endangered white-clawed crayfish to waterways in south west England, where there has been more than a 70 per cent decline in this species since the 1970s.

Threats to the species include habitat fragmentation, pollution and the introduction of the non-native invasive American signal crayfish.

Find out more about Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation projects around the world.

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