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Berlin Zoo Experience

Although it is too late to add my experience at Berlin Zoo to my dissertation, I felt I had to document it on my blog. To say I was surprised by what I seen would be an understatement!

Berlin Zoo is a very large and famously known zoo which makes you think they would have the state of the art enclosures for the animals and the conditions would be of high standards. But no, it was the complete opposite… small glass cages containing more animals than it should hold, majority of the animals were held inside due to the weather conditions, giving them no where near enough space to roam.

The enclosures were mainly made up of concrete, bars, chains and ropes. Hardly representing the wild, with little straw, bark and wood for the animals to play with.

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Here you can see one of the orangutangs in the monkey house. His expression and body language just shows how unhappy he is, I was surprised that none of the other zoo goers could see or was experiencing what I was. Everyone seemed to be happy enough to sit and watch the ape sat sadly like this, some of the children were even knocking on the glass, obviously adding to the animals discomfort.

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Walking around the zoological park, you could feel the sadness of the animals in the inside enclosures and also outside.

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Here you can see the extent of the damage being in captivity is doing to the animals, this was the first real sign I seen of zoochosis: the goat has plucked its fur out in distress.

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The big cat enclosures were unstimulating for the animals and the furthest from their natural habitat.  The display the tigers were giving was quite unsettling, pacing back and force in their pens, growling loudly whilst running into the wall of the enclosure. They were clearly uncomfortable with the surroundings.

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Finalised Free Tilly Book

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First draft of Free Tilly book

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First Illustrations of Free Tilly

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Storyboard of Free Tilly

Storyboard 2 Storyboard

Updated StoryPlan

Age range changed to 7 – 9 year olds.

Story Plan: Free Tilly

  • 1st & 2nd Page: Meet Tilikum the largest Orca in captivity. He’s over 22 feet in length and weighs 12,500 pounds. Wild Orcas are one of the cleverest animals on the planet. Orcas have a very strong family bond and live with their families for their entire life.
  • 3rd Page: When Tilikum was only 2 years old, he was captured and taken away from his family and home. He was very scared.
  • 4th Page: After being captured poor Tilikum was held in a horrible concrete tank for a year. All he could do was swim in small circles and float on the surface; it was a big change from being free to swim miles of the ocean with his family.
  • 5th & 6th Page: Sealand of the Pacific bought Tilikum and started to train him for shows. He did not like Sealand of the Pacific, it was very run down and dirty. They would starve him of food until he perfected his tricks and the older female Orca’s would be mean to Tilikum. He was forced to perform 7 days a week, 8 times a day.
  • 7th Page: As the days went on Tilikum became more and more stressed in captivity as well as becoming ill. He began taking his anger out on the people around him.
  • 8th Page: One day Tilikum took a turn for the worse… His trainer Katie fell into the pool! He pulled her down in the pool and tried to hurt her. Tilikum had turned dangerous. This would not be the last time Tilikum would try to hurt his trainer.
  • 9th Page: Sealand of the Pacific no longer wanted Tilikum and sold him to Seaworld. Seaworld did not care about Tilikums reputation. They just used him to perform, he was the biggest whale in captivity.
  • 10th Page: Tilikums tank at Seaworld was made up of chemical filled water and he also had no protection from the hot sun. Captivity had a bad effect on Tilikum, being held in a tiny pool was unhealthy. He began to show unusual behaviour for an orca.
  • 11th Page: As years went by Tilikum was involved in many vicious attacks towards his trainers. Captivity effects animals in strange ways, most of the time is brings out their anger. Tilly would also bite his metal gate and sides of his tank, hurting his teeth.
  • 12th Page: Tilikum misses his family. He is separated from the other Orcas because of his angry attacks. Being kept in isolation for a year made Tilly very lonely. This is not a normal life for an orca.
  • 13th Page: Tilikum was eventually returned to performing. He does not enjoy performing. He just wants to be free. He is not the only orca that suffers from living in captivity.
  • 14th Page: Over the years at Seaworld, Tilikum has had less and less contact with other orcas and humans. Making him a very lonely whale. Orcas are used to being around a large family of other orcas. Being separated from their family is unhealthy, making them ill.
  • 15th Page: Captivity does not help wild animals in anyway, it is not healthy. Orcas have been performing for many years now and it is time for it to stop. Tilikum is getting old and it is time to set him free so he can live a happy life in the wild.
  • 16th Page: Its time to free Tilikum. (Link to petition/website)

Story Plan: Free Tilly

Story Plan: Free Tilly

  • 1st & 2nd Page: Meet Tilikum the largest Orca in captivity. He’s over 22 feet in length and weighs 12,500 pounds.
  • 3rd Page: When Tilikum was only 2 years old, he was captured and taken away from his family and home. He was very scared.
  • 4th Page: After being captured poor Tilikum was helf in a horrible concrete tank for a year, until a marine park finally wanted him.
  • 5th & 6th Page: Sealand of the Pacific bought Tilikum and started to train him for shows. He did not like Sealand of the Pacific, They would starve him of food until he perfected his tricks and the older female Orca’s would be mean to Tilikum.
  • 7th Page: As the days went on Tilikum became more and more stressed in captivity. He began taking his pain out on the people around him.
  • 8th Page: One day Tilikum took a turn for the worse… His trainer Katie fell into the pool! He pulled her tinto the pool and tried to hurt her. Tilikum turned dangerous.
  • 9th Page: Sealand of the Pacific no longer wanted Tilikum and sold him to Seaworld. Seaworld did not care about Tilikums reputation. They just used him to perform.
  • 10th Page: Captivity began to take its toll on Tilikum, being held in a tiny pool has its effects.
  • 11th Page: As years went by Tilikum was involved in many vicious attacks. Captivity effects animals in strange way, most of the time is brings out their aggression.
  • 12th Page: Tilikum misses his family. He is separated from the other Orcas. Being kept in isolation for a year made Tilly very lonely.
  • 13th Page: Tilikum was eventually returned to performing. He does not enjoy performing. He just wants to be free.
  • 14th & 15th Page: Effects of captivity.
  • 16th Page: Tilly is alone. Its time to free Tilikum.

Dissertation – First draft of chapter 3: Free Tilly – an educational picture book for children aged 3-6.

Free Tilly – an educational picture book for children aged 3-6.

Free Tilly is a picture book that looks at an orca in captivity, it documents his life of confinement. From the beginning of his life he has been in captivity and this book acts as a biography as well as explaining the effects of animal captivity to a young child’s mind.

The main aim of the book is too educate young children on the animal’s natural life and how captivity effects an animal physically and mentally. Giving a child an opportunity to learn about wild animals through a different approach rather than taking a visit to a zoo or aquarium.

After studies showing that children do not necessarily learn from the zoo experience, this book will provide them with a platform that is cheaper, easy to access and most importantly feeding them the correct information.

Recent research on zoo studies (psychologyandsociety, 2010) has shown “Children are often excluded from studies taken about zoo impact when they are said to be the main reason for zoo’s”. This is reiterating how the captivity of animals is in fact not benefiting the younger mind nor is that the main purpose. Studies are only showing the learning aspect of an animal enclosure from an adults point of view which is defeating the main objective for preserving zoo’s.

Developing a child’s critical thinking at a young age is very important and a huge aspect of their maturity, teaching a child what is right and what is wrong plays a large part in developing their minds.

Studies show that children are constantly absorbing what is happening around them, simple every day tasks affect a child more than they would affect an adult.

For instance, Bright Horizon’s Family Solutions (n.d) has written and demonstrated “A seven-year-old speculates: Several of my friends are teasing a kid in our class about his clothes. Do I join in, not participate, or tell them how I really feel about what they are doing?” As adults we would know what the correct thing to do was but as a child, it is these types of situations that help them to develop into their future self. Proving that what a person learns as a minor reflects on future life.

This picture book also challenges the norm of campaigning for animal welfare, most campaigns use photography or film to voice the message they want to portray. Where as the concept of this book is unique, as well as challenging a different demographic.

Animal welfare campaigns are usual aimed at only adults, for example the concept behind David Kukla’s ‘Captive Landscapes’ is too complicated for a young mind to understand. A child would just see his photography as what is it: an image of an enclosure. To a child the image will not be seen as the thought provoking image David is trying to achieve. They would not understand that these images created by Kukla are trying to cause opinions within the viewer, to make them question the whether animal captivity is right.

From illustrator to illustrator – Nina Cosford

Nina Cosford is a freelance illustrator from Hastings, she covers a range of areas in illustration.
I first discovered Nina when reading an article about her latest work, ‘Girls Illustrated’.

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I admire Nina’s work ascetic, this reason being why I contacted her asking for some advice.

Here are the main points of the email, she reply was really helpful.
1. Self Promotion and Image
Whenever possible, update your website, blog, social media etc to show you are busy. Even if you feel
at a stand-still or if work is sparse, there are a number of ways to make yourself look busy, productive and
prolific, even if that’s not entirely the case. Bear in mind that people will start to have an idea of what you
are like by what you are projecting online. It’s good to try to be positive, pleasant and inquisitive as this will
create a positive and energetic self image. I have learned that you don’t have to be 100% confident in
yourself to give off the impression that you are.

2. Confidence
Similar to my point above, confidence builds gradually and it’s only by taking risks and trying things out
that you will gain any. Each project you complete, each job you finish, each piece of good feedback you
get, all goes back into your practice. I personally feel it’s good to maintain a clear style that a) you enjoy
and feel expresses your own unique voice and b) other people can come to recognise as you. Again, this
does come about gradually with job after job but you have to start somewhere. Consider the identity you
project when it comes to your final major project / portfolio etc because this is one of the first glimpses
people in the industry get of you. I struggled with my degree show in choosing what represented me and
my way of illustrating. I decided to do something really simple and showcase all my drawings I liked best,
all together as a set. I love drawing buildings so made a montage of all the ones I’d drawn. This was seen
by art directors and publishers and because of it I was commissioned to do my first book, which entailed
drawing lots of buildings. Kind of obvious but it showed my work in context and was applicable to real life
jobs. With your projects, consider; would someone commission me to make this? Who is my audience,
what is the demographic I am trying to appeal to? How do I set out my projects and structure my time?
You should always take your work seriously and professionally – if you don’t then who will? Whether it’s a
self-initiated project, a sample, a collaboration or a commission, it’s still you and it’s still your work. Taking
your work seriously and professionally is one of the biggest contributors to self-confidence in my opinion.
If you value your work, others will too!

3. Costs of Living
All of this is well and good but you still need to pay the bills and make a living! The best thing I can advise,
is to not pressure yourself too much into living where you think you just should. For a few years I was
telling myself I’ve got to move to London, to the city, because that’s where the work is. In some instances
that can be true but for freelancers, we can often be remote. There’s quite a lot of freedom, so you should
live where you feel happy, within your means and still in touch enough with the things you want to be
in touch with. I’m only a 90 minute train journey from London and still keep in touch with a bunch of London
friends and peers from uni so I still feel connected. One thing to remember though, is that only you are
responsible for your lifestyle and it’s up to you to maintain contact and still get yourself out there. As for
everyone, there are always ups and downs to being self-employed and of course, creative! Like I said before
though, it’s up to you which image of yourself you project. It doesn’t matter where you live, it comes down
to your energy and your image of self-confidence because that is what people pick up on.

4. Professional Practice

Ideally, you want to have a good studio environment to work in. Many people use a spare part of their home
but it can be great to have a workspace which is separate from your living space. I worked in a box room at
the end of my bed for about 2 years before finding a studio to rent which I could afford. It made such a huge
difference moving my studio out of the home – I felt ten times more professional and felt like I was actually a
full-time working illustrator. For ages, I didn’t actually realise I was making a living purely out of my illustration
work, I felt like it was temporary or something I was just having a go at. It wasn’t until I started renting a
studio that I saw how achievable it was, especially if you share with people. Always try your best to network
locally and keep your ear to the ground to see what other creatives around you are up to. It’s great to
cross-over wherever possible and can make a really supportive and inspiring work environment.

Contacting Tiger Print…

I was pleasantly surprised by the quickness of the reply from Tiger Print, that along with the company taking the time to tell me they like my work although they don’t have any placements at the moment gave me a little confidence boost. They also told me to keep in contact and try again in the future which I definitely will be doing!

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