The Florida panther has long had to deal with disease, car accidents, genetic disorders, extreme heat, hurricanes and even predators before cubs are old enough to open their eyes. Now the animal faces the indignity of being portrayed in orange wax and melting in the sun. But it’s for a good cause — The CLEO Institute is working with the VoLo Foundation and Miami ad agency Zubi to make an artistic statement about how climate change is decimating the panther population and other wildlife.
“We are having a very hyperactive hurricane season and we have run out of names to name them. We are experiencing increased temperatures and increased sea level as well,” Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of The CLEO Institute, told CNN. “For us the climate crisis is very relevant and it’s impacting Floridians in so many ways.”
The panther sculpture is one of three wax installations created by artist and director Bob Partington, who is known for hosting The History Channel’s “ThingamaBob” show. The installation was unveiled at ZooTampa last week. The sculptures are designed to melt in the heat over a period of days, revealing a climate change-related message. The first wax work, which was installed in Miami, depicted a lifeguard hut which melted to reveal the message: “More Heat, Less Beaches.”
Partington’s third wax sculpture will debut at Orlando’s city hall this week. It depicts a girl and her grandfather sitting on a bench and aims to make viewers wonder how much of Florida’s nature will be left when this little girl grows up.
“The idea of these icons is to highlight things that all Floridians really want to protect and treasure,” Arditi-Rocha said. “We know this is a topic that has been tremendously politicized, but everyone wants to protect our beautiful beaches, our biodiversity and our way of living.”