September 12, 2013
Ugly Animal Preservation Society Chooses Its Mascot
[ Watch the Video: Who Wins The Ugliest Animal Award? ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
An oddball conservation group called the Ugly Animal Preservation Society has finally decided on a mascot meant to champion their cause — the blobfish. Just as the name implies, the blobfish is a gelatinous blob that resembles a cartoonish and grumpy old man, complete with a large nose and drooping face.
The society allowed the general public to pick the world’s ugliest animal in an online video campaign that pitted several ugly animals against each other, including creatures such as the proboscis monkey, the Titicaca “scrotum” water frog, and the flightless dung beetle.
Over 100,000 concerned people watched these campaign videos for each of the ugly animals. Though the Ugly Animal Preservation Society tempers their message with plenty of humor, their stated goal of "raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children" is sincere. Some of the world’s 'sexier' animals, like pandas, usually receive the most attention and the most money, and therefore walk away with the lion’s share of conservation resources.
Hundreds of ugly animal species, however, are also endangered but usually go unnoticed by the general public. The winner of Ugly Animal Preservation Society's mascot search was announced at the British Science Festival in Newcastle.
Simon Watt, the official “president for life” of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society said he hopes these efforts will help even out conservation efforts between pretty and ugly animals.
"It's the most depressing type of science to be involved with," said Watt in an interview with the BBC. "It's basically working out: What died today?"
To drum up awareness of these animals, the society held the election to find an official ugly animal mascot and asked several English comedians to campaign for their selected animal. Sponsors such as Iszi Lawrence, Greg Foot and Simon Watt himself created videos in which they pleaded with the public to vote for their ugly creature of choice. These videos, while funny, also provided plenty of background on the animals and explained their plight.
“We’ve needed an ugly face for endangered animals for a long time and I’ve been amazed by the public’s reaction. For too long the cute and fluffy animals have taken the limelight but now the blobfish will be a voice for the mingers who always get forgotten,” said Watt in a press statement.
More than raising awareness for the uglier animals of the world, the society also hopes to get young people interested and involved in the sciences.
Novel as their endeavor may be, the Ugly Animal Preservation Society is not the first to call attention to the unfair treatment of endangered species. Earlier this summer a report from the National Environmental Research Program's Environmental Decisions Hub and The University of Queensland claimed that only 80 mammals receive the majority of preservation funds raised by international, non-governmental organizations.
Professor Hugh Possingham, who wrote the report, dubbed animals like pandas, tigers and rhinos as “celebrity species” and that are most often used to raise money for conservation. According to professor Possingham’s report, there is a major imbalance in the world of conservation. Though some 20,000 mammals are endangered in this world, many only pay attention to the 80 celebrity species.
“So if you're an obscure animal or plant in a remote place, you have next to no hope of getting conservation resources,” said Possingham.
Simon Watt and the Ugly Animal Preservation Society have taken it upon themselves to look out for these marginalized creatures, and though they do so with a bit of humor, one can only hope they’re making a difference.