Issues Magazine

Sanctuary Inspires Street Art


Healesville Sanctuary

They appeared over the weekend, a giant mountain pygmy-possum (pictured below) and a platypus on a wall and water tower at Healesville Sanctaury to feature the work of international street artist, Roa.

His identity is a secret, he does not give interviews, and his animal-themed creations grace public spaces in cultural meccas such as Berlin and New York.

In Australia for an exhibition of his work at Melbourne’s Backwoods Gallery, Roa decided on the mountain pygmy-possum and platypus after he spent time with keepers and vets learning more about Australia’s unique wildlife.

This is the first time that Roa’s work has ever featured in a zoo.

Glen Holland, Healesville Sanctuary’s Director, said the staff was very excited by Roa’s visit and many were already huge fans of his detailed, illustrative animal paintings which cover walls of enormous scale around the world.

“The project will attract lots of interest from visitors and media,” Holland said. “We were so excited to see which species Roa was inspired to feature in his art work for the Sanctuary, and no one knew until he started to paint.”

With local species of animals as his main focus, Roa met with the Sanctuary’s threatened species curator and senior veterinarian to learn about the Sanctuary’s captive breeding programs. The programs focus on 10 of the 20 most vulnerable species teetering on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss, feral animals, landscape fragmentation, disease and climate change. He then spent time with keepers and toured the Fighting Extinction hub at Healesville Sanctuary.

“It’s not about me,” Roa said. “The spotlight should be on the threatened species animals, the ones no one sees, the ones no one thinks about, the ones that are going to die if we do nothing. If this project inspires others to care for them, then I have done my job.”