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Bringing 2013 to a close…

I must admit, I kind of assigned myself to the fact that the auction at the end of the Go Go Gorilla Norwich trail would probably signal the end of my Kate on Conservation blog. It has always been a humble blog; what began as simply an example blog site to be submitted as part of my Internet Studies course during my study abroad year has continued long past the duration of time I had ever expected or intended. Whilst other blogs I have seen start up have grown into hugely popular sites, with huge followings,  I kept my niche and my idea simple and to the point; I believe in conservation, I believe that we all need to take active steps – no matter how big or small – to ensure the future of our planet, and I believe in the work of the Born Free Foundation. So if I’ve managed to make  just a few people aware of the Born Free Foundation, their work, or the fantastic work going on at Shamwari Game Reserve, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people. Click here to see the complete report.

Although achieving around 3,500 views in total is not a huge audience, it is certainly more than I had expected in the beginning, and the blog has spanned many different directions – which is perhaps why it hasn’t achieved the potential heights a blog can reach – I haven’t always had a concise direction; aside from reporting on the work of the Born Free Foundation, I have also looked specifically at Shamwari Game Reserve, conservation issues in South Africa, the global work of Born Free, the Julie Ward case, Worldwide Experience’s Voice of Conservation competition and an account of the Norwich Go Go Gorillas trail, and a few other things in between! It may seem a little random at times, but I assure you, all these subjects are related.

Before I bid a fond goodbye to 2013, and enter the uncertain future of whether or not a blog of this nature has a place in my life over the coming year, I can’t leave without sharing the last few updates of 2013, and filling in the blanks on where my conservation journey and efforts have since headed and where they will go from here:

My Top 5 updates for the last quarter of 2013…

1. The most exciting and significant event of 2013 was starting work for Discovery Education, part of the Discovery Communications family.

Having only graduated in the summer, signing this contract in November was far beyond my expectations of where my career would be headed. I am a sub-editor, working on Clipbank – a service that brings educational resources, largely in video format, to secondary schools. I feel privileged to work for such a fantastic company, and to combine my passions for media, language and education so early on in my career journey.

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2. A day in the life of a Game Ranger…

Discovery Education is part of the Espresso Education group. Prior to joining the Discovery Communications team, I was working under Espresso Education’s Channel 4 Learning branch. During my first week there, they set up an initiative called “Espresso Academy”. These voluntary lunchtime lectures run once a month, and give employees of any level or role the chance to share something they feel passionate about, something they have knowledge of, or something they have done – with the common aim of sharing “knowledge, for knowledge’s sake”.  I became the second employee to host one of these events (after the person who started the whole initiative) and chose to speak about Shamwari, and becoming a Game Ranger. See my full set of slides here.

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3. Bringing wildlife awareness to young audiences

As an auntie of 5 children aged 0-6 years old, I always enjoy finding storybooks that will introduce animals to their thoughts and vocabulary. I’m not going to force my views and opinions on them, or instill my ideas of taking action and donating time and money to the cause of conservation on children so young; it’s something they need to discover for themselves if that’s going to happen. But I think they’re never too young to learn that different animals exist in different parts of the world.

So I was particularly intrigued when my previous landlords (whom I lived with at the time of the Go Go Gorilla auction) introduced me to Anthony Browne books, inquiring as to whether he had been commissioned to do any of the designs. He wasn’t involved in designing any of the Norwich gorillas, but when I looked through one of his books, I understood why they had made that connection, and it did leave me quite reminiscent of the campaign.

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I was also contacted later in the year by Booktrope, asking me whether I review books on my blog. Whilst I didn’t feel that a review of children’s book was exactly in-line with my blogging message, I felt that the connection of bringing an awareness of animals and conservation to young audiences warranted including a bit of information about the book on here, and it is set in Africa, telling a story through the eyes of African animals; so what’s the harm? (I’m also quite flattered that someone would notice this blog and contact me!)

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The email I received from them is as follows: (please click to enlarge, or visit their website for more info). zip goes wandering

4. I now own my own Go Go Gorilla!

With great thanks to my family, this year for Christmas I was given a miniature ceramic Go Go Gorilla, decorated with one of the designs that featured on one of the full-size Gorillas that was on display in Norwich before being sold at auction. My mother came with me to the auction and I joked about how I’d love to own one. Whilst mine wasn’t quite as expensive as those sold at auction, the proceeds did go to Break and the Born Free Foundation, and it was a wonderfully thoughtful gesture.

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5. Designing a Shamwari Gorilla to send to the Born Free Julie Ward Sanctuary.

Finally, I used my spare time over the Christmas holidays to finally get around to designing that blank Wild in Art ceramic gorilla figure I’d previously posted about. I used my earlier designs as inspiration, and whilst I very much enjoy art, I found moving from paper to 3D model quite difficult. Nonetheless, my design is complete and ready to send out to Shamwari, as a gift to the Julie Ward sanctuary. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them!

photo(9)Thank you to everyone whose read my posts and taken an interest! Remember you can keep up-to-date with the Born Free Foundation as follows:

www.bornfree.org.uk

www.shamwari.com

And you can find me at:

www.katesnowdon.com

twitter.com/K1Snowdon

or by using any of my Blogroll links.

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Go Go Going Once, Go Go Going Twice, Go Go Gorilla Gone!

It’s been a crazy 48 hours, and I’ve only just found the time to sit down and write about the amazing Go Go Gorilla auction that took place at the Forum, Norwich on Thursday night (October 3rd).

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I’ve mentioned a couple times on this blog that mid-way through the summer I actually moved away from Norfolk to take on my first graduate job; a temporary contract with Channel 4 Learning in Hammersmith, London. So working all week, I genuinely had to make a mad dash after work to get over to Norwich in time for the auction. But I’d followed the Go Go Gorilla events and supported the charities throughout all of this year – I wasn’t going to not be there at the end (and yes, I had a very long commute to work Friday morning).

DSC_0346It was definitely worth it though! I loved that the Forum had transformed into a glamorous auction room with a red carpet, VIP tables and great ambiance from the lighting.

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Ticket and bidding card (the gorilla)

Upon arrival, after passing a gorilla-lined red carpet , I was handed my bidding card (more of a memento than to actually bid with) and headed up to the gallery, where I was overlooking the events of the evening (knowing I couldn’t afford the thousands of pounds each gorilla would go for, it seemed unnecessary to be seated downstairs).

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The evening kicked off with speeches from Break charity’s patron Jake Humphrey. I must admit, my interest in this whole initiative came from my support and following of the Born Free Foundation; which I have supported since I was a child, and even traveled to South Africa to volunteer at their big cat sanctuaries there. But Born Free is only a partner of this project; the main driving force has been Break charity, which is an East Anglia-based charity that supports young people in care (and there after), children and young people with disabilities, families in need of support and Children at risk.

DSC_0360In credit to this whole project – I had never heard of Break before this summer. Now, I must have tweeted them about 50 times and through various Go Go Gorilla news articles and leaflets, I’m very aware of their work, and will continue to support this fantastic charity in the future. Here are the opening speeches from the night from Break patron Jake Humphrey:

Followed by the man responsible for this amazing initiative, who has spent the last TWO YEARS putting it together; Go Go Gorilla trail organiser Martin Green: (I was amazed to hear over a million people had taken part in the trail!

The auction quickly got under way  with the first commissioned gorilla, Nelson (the gorilla responsible for selling the idea to the sponsors), painted by local artist Mik Richardson and representing Break Charity; selling for £7,000. A great start to night.

I loved how much the crowd got behind the sales; cheering as each major target was reached.

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Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest money-raisers of the night was Mr. Carrow, the Norwich City Football Club inspired gorilla, which spent the summer at the football ground. He was the first gorilla to break the £15,000 mark (and second to reach £10,000 after Horatio) and the hammer was lowered at a staggering £17,000!

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The gorilla voted ‘public’s favourite’ via local newspaper poles (through Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, which have backed the charity project from the beginning); Alan gorilla was signed by Steve Coogan himself at the Anglia Square world premiere of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa earlier in the summer. I was surprised that given Alan Partridge’s publicity, and the publicity given to Norwich due to his debut blockbuster film (albeit a lightly mocking view) his gorilla doppelganger only fetched £5,000 at auction  – which in comparison with some of the most popular gorillas of the night, wasn’t as much as I was expecting.

dgffhThere was no doubt in my mind – that given all the scandal around him (as documented on this blog) – Freddie Radio Go Go Gorilla was going to be the highest reaching sale of the night. Also painted by local artist Mik Richardson (who worked on 5 of the gorillas in total – and some of the mini gorillas that were decorated by schools) this gorilla – which looked great pre and post make over! – reached an amazing £20,000!!

1378674_224070414424177_27251567_nWatch the auction action for the highest selling gorilla of the night here: (I love the theme music that Freddie is introduced with)

I’m so pleased with the way that the local community of Norwich, the local (and national news) and Born Free Foundation’s patron, Queen guitarist Brian May, supported the Go Go Gorilla and Break Foundation against the controversy that this chimpy chappy caused – and although he did have to have a make over – I think he looked great both ways!

goAll in all, the auction sales reached a staggering £272,300 by the end of the night! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was certainly higher!

imageAt the end of the sales, a (slightly emotional) Martin Green was presented with a mini gorilla of his own, a design that Jake Humphrey said he had supported, but it had never made it to the final creations. I can’t stress enough how brilliant this whole fundraising initiative has been, and how proud it’s made me of Norwich and as a Born Free supporter (and now a Break supporter too)!

In-keeping with this blog’s theme; yesterday’s (4th October) Eastern Daily Press newspaper gave an insight into the work of Born Free Foundation and why it was chosen as a partner to this project:

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At the end of the proceedings, I went and had a chat with some of the main people involved with Go Go Gorillas initiative, and this is what they had to say:

Jake Humphrey – Break Charity Patron:

DSC_0357“It has been great for bringing people together. To have something as abstract as gorillas across the streets of Norwich and to know how much support has been behind it – it’s shown even more how much of an incredible city this is.”

Martin Green – Go Go Gorilla Organiser, Break Charity:

DSC_0361“It’s great, it’s been really good and thank you to everyone who has gotten behind it. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”

Mik Richardson – Go Go Gorilla Artist (Freddie “Radio Go Go”, Nelson, Juno, Gladstone, Gonzo – sales total at auction: £40,900):

DSC_0362” [On Freddie Radio Go Go] I’m the biggest Queen fan! The press kept asking me what I thought about it all [Freddie being re-painted] and I said; ‘It’s a shame, because I don’t think it will sell for as much now’ – but I’m not so sure anymore! When it all happened, I didn’t think I’d get it re-painted in time: I was so busy. I was coming back and working on it until 1am. I mean I’m usually a mural artist so this whole thing was challenging, but the reaction has been good and it’s been really fun working with the school’s painting their mini gorillas.”

A full list of prices that the gorilla’s reached can be seen here (taken from today’s Eastern Daily Press):

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What a truly fabulous ending to the Go Go Gorilla summer! I must admit, I felt a little sad as I walked out past the last few gorillas being loaded up for delivery to their owners! Though, I expect I’ll still get to see some of them in some of the local businesses of Norwich. Hopefully.

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Ending a summer of gorilla goodness!

We’re officially in the lead up to the Go Go Gorilla auction! Taking place on Thursday the 3rd October, the sale of the gorillas will be raising money for the charity Break and the Born Free Foundation.

Auction catalogue

Auction catalogue

There have been so many Go Go Gorilla-related goings on over the latter half of the summer, that it’s been hard keeping track – especially as I left Norfolk in August to take on a six-month contract in London, working for Clipbank, Channel 4 Learning. Despite being out of town, I’ve been keeping touch with the initiative via local newspapers (online and having them sent to me). I’ve always found that our local papers in Norfolk are very supportive of charity work – which is a particular pleasure when it involves the Born Free Foundation, as I found out first hand when I volunteered with the charity in South Africa. image

I purchased some Go Go Gorilla t’shirts  made by BK Frank ahead of today’s farewell event; to show my support for the partnership charities and also an art trail that has brought so much joy and positivity across Norwich. I’m proud of my Norfolk roots, and so anything that showcases some of the best of our community spirit: I will be right behind.

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I took a trip back to Norfolk especially to see the mini gorillas (painted by local schools) when they were collected together for the last time in Castle Mall. Admittedly, I never got to complete the trail for the mini gorillas, so it was great to see them all at last!

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Today, there was also a final gathering together of all the full-size gorillas outside the Forum, Norwich (you guessed it, I took another trip home especially). Aside from the Go Go Gorillas, there were stalls selling the BK Frank t’shirts and Wild in Art miniature ornaments of three of the gorilla designs. There were was also two mayors in attendance – albeit one of them seemed very familiar from the trail…

The guest that stole the show however? Our EDP-reader voted favourite gorilla: Alan Partridge! Bearing Steve Coogan’s alter-ego’s autograph from the Anglia Square world premiere of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

I did actually make it round to all of these guys when the trail was taking place – but it was good to see them all together, and get a sense of just how popular this event has been!

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So, I’ll see you all again for the last time at the auction this week! Looking forward to seeing how much money gets raised for Break, and of course the Born Free Foundation.

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That’s me, second from right – with my EDP/Evening Standard goodie bag!

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Designing my own Go Go Gorilla for Shamwari Game Reserve

I mentioned on my last blog that I would be designing my own mini Go Go Gorilla to send out to Shamwari Game Reserve’s Julie Ward Born Free Education Centre – as my work and support of Shamwari and Born Free is the driving force of this blog  (if you need reminding about why this blog started, here’s a cheeky newspaper article  from my time at Shamwari that I came across recently!)

So I thought maybe I should update you with my design ideas and get some feedback before I go painting it on my miniature ceramic figure (available from the Wild in Art website). The basic elements of my design will be my Shamwari work t’shirt from my time as a volunteer there, the Born Free Foundation logo, and an image of Julie ward.

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I’ve done a quick sketch of the way I will use these elements on my design – and plan to paint a realistic looking gorilla face (inspired by Norwich’s new Freddie ‘Radio Go Go’ Gorilla) using some of the colours from the gorilla picture I’ve sourced. The gorilla will be wearing a Shamwari work uniform. Let me know what you think by tweeting @k1snowdon

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I’ll be able to take lots of inspiration from the 54 designs we’ve seen around Norwich, and the awesome new deck of playing cards they’ve released provide really easy reference! What great timing!

photo(3)SEE MY COMPLETED, PAINTED GORILLA HERE

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Get a Gorilla!

Yesterday’s Eastern Daily Press newspaper had a brilliant Go Go Gorilla pull-out paper, with info on the gorillas’ story, trail maps for the Go Go Gorillas and the mini gorillas, photos, interviews with two of the artists and details on both partner charities that the trail is raising funds for: Break Charity and Born Free Foundation.

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The thing that really caught my eye though, was the competition to design a gorilla, open to all ages. The Eastern Daily Press (EDP) and Evening News are running the design-a-gorilla competition until 5pm on the 5th August, with gorilla sculptors Wild In Art offering prizes such as a ‘paint your own gorilla’ kit and one of three ceramic gorillas  (based on Catch Me If You Can gorilla, Gareth gorilla and Butch) that will soon be on sale in Norwich.

IMG_1260I must admit, I already bought a little ceramic ‘paint your own gorilla’ kit, from Jarrolds, near the market place in Norwich. The gorilla is 15cm tall, with paints 5 paints (red, blue, yellow, black and white) included and a paint brush, gorilla outline (to practise your design first), and a list of ideas, inspirations and colour-making charts.

IMG_1262So, what do I plan to do with my tiny gorilla (almost an exact replica of the Go Go Gorillas I’ve been hunting down across Norwich), well – that’s easy. This blog and the many earlier posts on here were started up to share my thoughts and experiences on the Born Free Foundation, which I have been a supporter of since the age of 6, and my time spent volunteering at Shamwari Game Reserve, home to two of Born Free’s Big Cat Sanctuaries, so my plan is to create a Shamwari/Born Free Foundation themed Gorilla, and send it to the Born Free Foundation Julie Ward Education Centre in South Africa.

Watch this space.

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So, if you are interested in winning your own gorilla by entering the competition –  send your designs to Design-a-Gorilla Competition, Archant, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE (home of the The Ape’d Crusader Go Go Gorilla 🙂 ) or click here for more info.

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Go Go Gorilla Trail: Mission Apecomplished

See all my Go Go Gorilla photos – Click Here!

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Here’s me, Happy at finding my last Gorilla #54

One month since the Go Go Gorilla Trail opened in Norwich (24th June) – I have finally ticked all the large sized gorillas off my list, including the new Alan Partridge Gorilla unveiled yesterday for the Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa Premiere held at Anglia Square. I love this new design, commemorating a successful ‘Anglia Square Not Leicester Square’ Campaign to get the premiere to take place in Norwich – and also to ‘make up’ for the Freddie Mercury gorilla that had to be redesigned. Good to see the Go Go Gorilla organisers putting some fun back into to trail – and that Steve Coogan has a sense of humour! Didn’t see him signing the gorilla before he went into the screening though: did he do it afterwards? Because that would have been awesome :).

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I must admit I completed the trail in three trips, I’m not from Norwich, I come from the near by town of Thetford, so for me the trail was a very deliberate plan. But it was great to meet so many other gorilla-hunters (and Tweeters) along the way: some of which were locals; coming across gorillas as they go about their daily lives, others; one-time visitors to Norwich discovering the trail by accident, and some, like me, were excitable enthusiasts determined to find them all (and enter the competition via John Lewis – which I gave a miss). But I guess that’s what the trail was about: embracing the community of Norwich and enjoying all of the city’s iconic buildings and trade.

Spot Optimus Primate... proudly outside Norwich Castle

Spot Optimus Primate… proudly outside Norwich Castle

The overall outcome of the trail is about raising awareness and funds for Break Charity and the Born Free Foundation (which is  of course where my interest is from). So many businesses across the city have provided a home for a Go Go Gorilla or a Mini Gorilla, and even some of those that haven’t, have shown their support by factoring gorillas into their promotional displays – leaving visitors fully aware of the fundraising taking place in Norwich.

At the end of the trail campaign (7th September) the Go Go Gorillas will be collected up and auctioned off, much like the Go Elephants, some of which can still be spotted across the city. If you’re interested in attending the Go Go Gorilla Auction, tickets can be purchased here.

Some of the Elephants are still around Norwich

Some of the Elephants are still around Norwich

I guess the last comment for me to answer – one which I have been asked a few times on Twitter – what is my favourite gorilla? Well, I do love Freddie ‘Radio Go Go’ (especially after all the trouble he’s caused: I love a bit of mischief), but King Kong has to be my favourite due to all the extra scenery that has gone into his display! And also because Kong has been the trail’s logo for months, so he’s the one I’ve been anticipating!

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So what next? I suppose I still have plenty of these little guys to find! (and an auction to attend!)

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Freddie my love…

This week I popped by to see the updated Freddie ‘Radio Go Go’ Gorilla statue outside The Forum in Norwich, after he was returned to his plinth on Wednesday after having a makeover.

IMG_1009Earlier reports of the gorilla being embroiled in a copyright row with the Mercury Phoenix Trust over the use of his Queen jacket appeared to be incorrect, as the Wild in Art sculpture still stands with his infamous yellow jacket in tact.

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Turns out it was the Freddie Mercury estate that requested Freddie be removed, the Mercury Phoenix Trust confirmed, and it wasn’t the jacket that the estate objected to, but rather depicting Freddie Mercury’s face on a gorilla. Martin Green, from Break has apologised for any problems this caused the MPT.

goWhilst artist Mik Richardson has done a brilliant job of creating such a life-like face for Freddie 2.0 (apparently it took 16 hours to complete), I can’t help but think the gorilla has lost some of its silly sense of fun that made it so attractive. The new face is a brilliant piece of serious artwork, but as the Go Go Gorilla trail is taking place over the school summer holidays, I don’t see what harm would have come of giving the kids something funny to look at as they enjoy the city of Norwich this summer.

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I can’t help but think that The Mercury estate have shot themselves in the foot a bit, as rather than celebrating the legend of Freddie Mercury, which is what the original design was all about, the new artwork has come to symbolise a sense of solidarity to the artist and the ‘little people’ behind the gorilla trail against a petty complaint from the late rock star’s estate.

*Disclaimer* The thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own and not associated with Go Go Gorillas, Wild in Art, The Born Free Foundation, Break or the artists involved.

Anyway, here’s ten Freddie’s that are NOT highly offensive gorillas! Just to take the monkey… er mickey.

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