Have you heard the expression, “It’s like building an airplane while you’re taking off”? That’s a fitting metaphor for the Amphibian Ark. The looming mass extinction of amphibians, and the connection to chytrid, are relatively recent discoveries. You see the problem, you think really hard about what to do, you come up with an emergency plan to avert the disaster — and then you need to basically run for office to raise the money to implement the plan. By money, we’re talking $50-60 million.
So while there are too many heroes behind the story of Amphibian Ark to mention right now, there was one of them, Kevin Zippel, pressing the flesh last week at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Everybody recognizes that a huge call to action has to be made, to convince corporations, foundations, and governments to write the big checks needed to do the job. The wildlife documentary makers, and the networks that broadcast them, must be sirens for the cause. And to that particular crowd, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival is their Sundance.
So, there was Kevin, the Amphibian Ark’s architect who goes by the title of program officer, meeting with gatekeepers for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discovery, Animal Planet, Nature, and several international media organizations. Armed with a one-page overview of Amphibian Ark, Kevin stumped for frogs. His opening line? “Hi, I’m Kevin, and I’m building an ark.” If Kevin were single, I bet that would be a very effective pickup line.
Thankfully, there was a tremendous outpouring of support at Jackson Hole for what the Ark will do.
The big finale was when Kevin was one of just a handful of people invited to present their cause at the Global Environmental Summit event on Saturday. Reminiscent of Al Gore and his “Inconvenient Truth” presentation, Kevin provided a primer on the amphibian crisis supported by a simple PowerPoint slide show. We’re working with the incredibly generous executive director of the Festival, Lisa Samford, to soon offer a video podcast of Kevin’s presentation.
With the “almost Hollywood” experience behind him, Kevin’s back at work coordinating the logistics for what will be one of the largest conservation efforts ever.