To Expose Dwindling Lion Populations
PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 17, 2011)—National Geographic Entertainment’s “The Last Lions” movie and the Philadelphia Zoo have joined forces to focus on seriously declining lion populations by making the famous lion statues at the entrance to the zoo “disappear” temporarily. Fifty years ago there were as many as 450,000 lions in the wild. Today there are as few as 20,000. The decline is attributed in part to human encroachment, over-hunting and illegal poaching.
Philadelphia Zoo’s lion sculptures, located at the main entrance (3400 W. Girard Ave.), will be covered with a bright yellow tarp from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28. On Feb. 28 at 10 a.m., they will be re-introduced to the public as ambassadors for lions in Africa. Tammy Schmidt, the zoo’s curator of carnivores, will be at the event to share some of the alarming facts about lions in the wild, what can be done to help them survive into the next century and what the Philadelphia Zoo is doing to aid in this cause.
The event precedes the screening of a new National Geographic theatrical documentary movie, “The Last Lions,” in Philadelphia next month. Written, photographed, directed and produced by renowned natural history filmmakers Dereck and Beverley Joubert, “The Last Lions” follows the life of an ostracized lioness and her cubs as they fight to survive — overcoming raging wildfires, marauding male lions intent on killing any cubs not of their lineage and an aggressive and competing pride of lionesses. The lioness and her cubs’ only defense is to escape to Duba Island, a tiny enclave in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. “The Last Lions” opens in Philadelphia at The Ritz 5 Theater, 214 Walnut Street, on March 4. For a full schedule of the release of “The Last Lions,” go to www.thelastlionsmovie.com or follow updates about the movie on Twitter @natgeomovies or become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/thelastlions.
Proceeds from the movie are re-invested in the future of lions in the wild with contributions to the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program of on-the-ground conservation programs, public awareness, education and economic incentive efforts aimed at halting the decline of big cats around the world. For more information about the Big Cats Initiative, go to www.causeanuproar.org.
National Geographic has created a number of interactive user experiences to promote “The Last Lions.” QR tags are on all posters, postcards and ads, which, when scanned by mobile phone users, allow the users to view the trailer and go to the film’s website; “The Last Lions” mobile website (thelastlions.com on your mobile phone) has ringtones and wallpapers, as well as instant access to enter the “The Last Lions” sweepstakes to win an Africa safari; “The Last Lions” Urban Safari mobile app, available on iPhone, iTtouch and Android platforms, lets users take photographs of themselves or others, using scenes from the film as backdrops, and then share the photos. Also, every time “The Last Lions” trailer is viewed on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ7SvK7w1xA), National Geographic donates 10 cents to big cat conservation in Botswana, up to $100,000.
About “The Last Lions” and filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert
“The Last Lions” is a stunning, dramatic wildlife adventure shot entirely in the wilds of Botswana on tiny Duba Island in the Okavango Delta. Wildlife filmmakers and passionate conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert are a force of nature themselves; they have been filming, researching and exploring in Africa for more than 25 years. Their coverage of predator behavior has resulted in 20 films, six books and several articles for National Geographic magazine. The Jouberts have earned a Peabody Award, five Emmy Awards, were named two of People Magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People” in 1994, were recipients of the prestigious Golden Plate by the American Academy of Achievement and have won a Panda Award from Wildscreen Natural History Film Festival in the U.K. They are pioneers in the field of wildlife filmmaking and are National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence. The Jouberts co-produce all of their films. Dereck directs, films and writes the scripts. Beverly produces and records sound. Beverly is also an accomplished still photographer; many of her photographs have appeared in National Geographic and other magazines. Together, they speak to sold-out audiences around the world.
About Philadelphia Zoo
America’s first zoo and one of the region’s foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. The zoo, fulfilling its mission of conservation, science, education and recreation, supports and engages in conservation efforts to protect endangered species around the world. The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the zoo welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors last year. Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is a non-smoking facility. For more information, visit www.philadelphiazoo.org.
About National Geographic Entertainment
National Geographic Entertainment is part of National Geographic Global Media and combines into a single operating group National Geographic Films, National Geographic Cinema Ventures, Kids Entertainment and Music & Radio. National Geographic Global Media brings together all of National Geographic’s editorial platforms to streamline collaboration and support the Society’s mission. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” National Geographic works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people worldwide each month through its magazines, books, digital media, television, radio, music, film and live events. It funds more than 250 research scientific research, exploration and conservation projects each year and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.