by Calley O'Neill and Rama the Elephant with Jeb Barsh
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
STATUS: IUCN Least concern as a species.
Preliminary population estimates suggest that there is a decline in the total population has taken place, which if sustained could mean the species will warrant listing in a higher category of threat. Efforts are currently underway to census giraffe populations more accurately, which will enable a more thorough determination of the conservation status of species. Giraffes are currently listed by the IUCN as Least Concern as a species. Endangered: G.C. peralta (West African or Nigerian giraffe). Endangered: G.C. rothschildi (Rothschild’s or Baringo giraffe) Not listed by CITES. In 1999, the IUCN estimated the number of giraffes over 140,000, 40% of which are protected. Habitat losses from increasing human development, hunting and poaching continue to threaten this at-risk species. Approximately 5,000 remain in the wild and about 450 live in zoos.
Has painting always been this mysterious? I ask myself as I witness the giraffe named Akeem, appearing seemingly effortlessly on canvas. Is Rama doing this? My being? The muses? Was it you, Akeem coming to life?
When I began this painting, I sat in silence for hours in front of Rama's work, not knowing what animal would emerge. In perfect clarity, the way was revealed. Akeem was already there. In every piece the design was revealed in Rama's breath and power. I am so grateful to be the hands of skill for something so much wiser and greater than I am. I kiss Akeem's head and paint another stroke.
Giraffes are certainly some of my favorite animals. I have always loved these exotics creatures, tallest terrestrial animal, and among the most beautiful and intriguing animals the world has ever known.They have fascinated people all over the world since ancient times. The beloved Akeem, a reticulated giraffe, also known as a Somali giraffe, native to Africa, was born in the Denver Zoo on April 29, 1987 and moved to the Oregon Zoo in June 1988. Over 16’ tall, he was 24 when he died in 2012 of old age after a wonderful life as a well-known ambassador for his species. Giraffes are considered especially long lived for ruminants, and can live up to 25 years in the wild.
Smali giraffes are native to northeastern Kenya, southern Ethiopia and Somalia. They thrive in savannas, grasslands and open woodlands, browsing especially on the twigs of the Acacia, myrrh, and bushwillow trees and shrubs. Like other ruminants, their stomachs have four chambers and their intestines measure over 250’ in length! They eat fruits as well as leaves and twigs. The average weight of males is about 3,500 pounds and females weigh in at around 1,800 pounds.
A giraffe’s heart can weigh more than 25 pounds, which beats rather fast at about 150 beats per minute. Their neck vertebrae can be nearly a foot tall.
Giraffes are mostly quiet animals and they live in communities that are loosely structured and ever changing. Some are quite social.
The painting reference photograph of Akeem is by Michael Durham, Oregon Zoo photographer. Each of the exhibition paintings is available as a finely crafted giclee, printed by Paul McCormick of Waimea on Hawai’I Island, and has been inspected, signed and numbered by artist Calley O’Neill.
An International Traveling Exhibition
by Calley O'Neill and the Rama Team, Featuring Rama, the Artist Elephant
A JOURNEY OF ART AND SOUL FOR THE EARTH
RAMA: AMBASSADOR FOR THE ENDANGERED ONES
Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak