Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Stunning Paintings Send Strong Message on Need to Protect Primates

Popular
Photo of Robin Huffman's painting Nunu by Cassie Kelly

The Explorers Club in New York City was covered with portraits of primates on May 10, in the first art exhibit the club has ever hosted in its 113 years. The show featured artist Robin Huffman who was honored Wednesday evening for her work in environmental conservation.


The exhibit, Witness, displayed the many monkeys and apes that Huffman has cared for during her time at animal sanctuaries around the world. Huffman told EcoWatch that these animals deserve to live freely just like we do and to make that happen, we must be their voice.

Huffman spoke at The Explorer's Club on May 10. Cassie Kelly

"This is the first gallery we've ever done and we've done it in part because her work is downsizing a global issue," said Will Roseman, executive director of The Explorers Club. "Witness is the perfect name for it because it's forcing us to witness what we've done to these beautiful creatures."

Huffman has not always been a painter, in fact, she used to be an interior designer in New York where she lived a lavish life of cocktail parties and schmoozing with corporate executives. But, about 10 years ago, Huffman found her true purpose, which she said was to help primates.

"I went to look at gorillas on a volunteer vacation. I was studying them, and then I fell in love with them," she said. "Suddenly my career of thirty years, with a great income and a condo, just didn't matter."

Huffman ditched her high-rise apartment overlooking the city and headed for Cameroon, where she worked at a sanctuary for several months. "Now, I refer to my life as BP and AP, before primates and after," she explained.

She began collecting the monkey's stories, photographing them and later painting them.

This is Zero Zero, a mustached guenon, who arrived at the sanctuary after being orphaned, sick and injured. After four days of care and attention—he loved mangos and leaves—Zero Zero fell ill and died.

Zero Zero arrived at Ape Action Africa sanctuary in Cameroon with just days left to live. Cassie Kelly

"I was still grieving five years later, thinking about the brief life of that innocent animal," she said. "Then, somebody said 'you should paint his picture, tell his story,' and I did it as a way to get over the sadness and pay tribute."

Since beginning to paint, Huffman has created dozens of portraits. She often works out of friends' homes or anywhere she is welcome.

"I've even painted in the corridor of the storage facility where I hold my work," she said. "I sold my home to be able to budget and afford going to Cameroon and pay to volunteer at the sanctuaries. My ideas of what is important changed a lot. Things that were unimportant felt like unwanted weight."

Huffman alongside her portrait of Kecksie, a vervet monkey. Cassie Kelly

Huffman said her life has a calling now. She wants to educate others about the exotic pet trade, horrendous conditions for animals in captivity, poaching and overall conservation efforts that can give these animals their habitat back.

For example, this is Rocky, she was put on display as a spectacle for 10 years with a chain around her neck, which was attached to a metal cart. She now has poor vision from the harsh sun and is very small for a full grown female chimp due to malnutrition.

Rocky is a chimp, timid and shy, but has a heart of gold. Cassie Kelly

"It's about animal welfare, but also about conservation and preserving a species," she said. "It's about respecting the individual and realizing they have as much of a right to live as we do."

Frida, a patas monkey, was also at the Ape Action center where she gorged herself on scrambled eggs. Cassie Kelly

"It'd be a better world if there didn't have to be sanctuaries, but for now they do have to exist," she concluded.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less
Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less
A pipeline being constructed in Pennsylvania. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday mandating federal agencies bypass key environmental reviews of energy and infrastructure projects.
Read More Show Less
A coke storage area is seen as steam rises from the quench towers at the US Steel Clairton Works on Jan. 21, 2020, in Clairton, Pennsylvania. White plumes of smoke billow above western Pennsylvania's rolling hills as scorching ovens bake coal, which rolls in by the trainload along the Monongahela River. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's claim that the U.S. has the cleanest air and water in the world has been widely refuted by statistics showing harmful levels of pollution. Now, a new biannual ranking released by researchers at Yale and Columbia finds that the U.S. is nowhere near the top in environmental performance, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Students walk by a sign reading "Climate Change" at the Doctor Tolosa Latour public school in Madrid, Spain on Sept. 9, 2014. In the U.S., New Jersey will be the first state to make the climate crisis part of its curriculum for all K-12 students. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP via Getty Images

New Jersey has invested in the future health of the planet by making sure the next generation of adults knows how human activity has had a deleterious effect on the planet. The state will be the first in the nation to make the climate crisis as part of its curriculum for all students, from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, as NorthJersey.com reported.

Read More Show Less
Some reservations are reporting infection rates many times higher than those observed in the general U.S. population. grandriver / Getty Images

By Lindsey Schneider, Joshua Sbicca and Stephanie Malin

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is novel, but pandemic threats to indigenous peoples are anything but new. Diseases like measles, smallpox and the Spanish flu have decimated Native American communities ever since the arrival of the first European colonizers.

Read More Show Less

Trending

As we continue to grapple with the issues of overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change, there exists an opportunity to address these existential threats with new innovations. Sawitree Pamee / EyeEm

By Kaya Bulbul

The ocean is our lifeline - we rely on it for the food we eat, the air we breathe, as well as for millions for jobs worldwide.

As we continue to grapple with the issues of overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change, there exists an opportunity to address these existential threats with new innovations, many of which unidentified or insufficiently supported.

Read More Show Less