Joe Richardson, founding member of the collective, is confident that the social experiment will rouse people to action. He was surprised to see how personal the tattoos were to the volunteers, who touchingly described their relationship to their chosen species in their applications.
One woman, who worked as a conservationist and wanted a tattoo of the crested newt, burst into tears when she got to the desk only to find they had run out of applications, he says.
The demand for certain species was so high that many volunteers didn’t get their first choice – but most were still keen to take part. “The idea of the permanent loss of an organism that has taken millennia to evolve is so important to many people that they still thought it was worth doing,” Richardson says.
The Ultimate Holding Company, a British arts collective, offered tattoos of 100 endangered species to people who are committed to preserving them as a project they call Extinked. One hundred volunteers were chosen out of several hundred who applied to receive a tattoo. Those who made it through had written about why they deserved to be a “lifelong ambassador” for their species.