+
upworthy

poaching

Most Shared

Zachary Quinto on saving tigers, Trump, and why hashtag activism is the real deal.

There are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left on Earth. Zachary Quinto thinks we should give a damn.

Actor Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek," "Heroes," "American Horror Story") talks to Upworthy about his involvement with tiger-saving campaign #3890Tigers, Trump, breakfast cereals — and tigers again.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Upworthy (UP): Why do you want to help save the tigers?

Zachary Quinto (ZQ): I’m a long-time animal lover and animal rights activist. When this opportunity came to me, I realized how much [poaching] has been affecting the wild tiger population — it was something I felt called to get involved with. There are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left in the world, which seems absolutely insane.

UP: So judging by your passion to save the tigers, is it safe to say you’re more of a cat person than a dog person?

ZQ: That’s actually not safe to say. I’m more of a dog person than a cat person. ... Sorry to dispel any illusions.

UP: Do you own a dog?

ZQ: I own two dogs. I should say, I rescued two dogs.













dogs appropriately excited by my return.


A post shared by Zachary Quinto (@zacharyquinto) on

UP: Tiger Beer is a big component of this campaign. If you could sit down and have a beer with any famous tiger —

ZQ: Tony the Tiger.

UP: Wow, I didn’t even finish the question. And why would that be?

ZQ: Because I grew up with “Theyyyy’re great!” You know, Tony the Tiger and — what was that, Frosted Flakes, right? I loved Frosted Flakes when I was a kid. Tony the Tiger really just lodged himself in my imagination.





UP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve learned about tigers since joining this campaign?

ZQ: I would say their power and the way that they ambush, I’m fascinated by. The power of their jaws, that they can take down animals much bigger than themselves.

I would say the thing that I’m probably most moved by — as powerful as they are — they’re also really vulnerable. I feel like there’s a lot of fear associated with animals like [tigers], but they also need protection. That balance and the delicacy of that is something that I’m really interested in.

Bengal tiger cubs at the Wild Shelter Foundation in El Salvador. Photo by Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images.

UP: As the saying goes, a tiger doesn’t change its stripes —

ZQ: Isn’t it that a leopard can’t change its spots? I think you’re mixing your feline metaphors.

UP: Oh, am I?

ZQ: I won’t hold you for that. ... [laughs] I'm going with you, I'm going with you.

UP: What's the most out-of-character thing you've had to do where you’ve had to change your stripes — or your spots — for a role?

ZQ: I don’t know, I guess I would have to say skinning a woman alive? That’s pretty far away from my inherent nature.

UP: Was that for "American Horror Story"?

ZQ:[laughs] It was "American Horror Story," yeah.

UP: Speaking of "American Horror Story" — you’ve played a lot of interesting characters throughout your career. Which one do you think has the most tiger-like qualities?

ZQ: Interesting. I like to use animals to kind of inform characters that I play in exploring who they are and building a character. Never used a big cat, specifically. But I guess I would say the character I played in "Heroes" maybe had some qualities of, like — he was very stealthy, and he stalked and pounced, and had some characteristics of a tiger.

[rebelmouse-image 19527817 dam="1" original_size="750x501" caption="The cast and crew of NBC's "Heroes" in 2007. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images." expand=1]The cast and crew of NBC's "Heroes" in 2007. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

UP: The Russia investigation, the Senate’s health care bill — there’s a lot of news happening right now. Why should we care about tigers?

ZQ: We’re in a moment now where we can still reverse the decline, and I think that it’s a crucial moment. That’s the key for me — to inspire people and to raise awareness is a way to do that.

UP: If you could have President Trump’s ear for a minute to talk about this issue, what would you say to him?

ZQ: I feel like, I don’t even know where to begin with what I would say to him, just in general. I’d have a lot of things to say to him, I’m sure. I feel like [this campaign is] more about rallying people. It’s about inspiring a collective voice.

I think what we can do in the face of this political climate is to really engage. Partly what drew me particularly to this opportunity and initiative is that people can get involved and spread the word, and that’s what I’m more interested in — inspiring likeminded people to rise up and raise awareness and raise money.

UP: Some people say hashtag activism isn’t real activism, but this campaign has a big social media component. Would you argue that social media activism matters?

ZQ: [Online activism] has become the real world, for better or for worse. Everyone walks around with this portal in their pocket, and we check our phones I think more often than we check in with each other sometimes. So I feel like what used to be tangible and actionable in the streets has become much more virtual and digital in the last decade.

Modes of communication have really shifted within our culture, and I feel like social media has become such an inextricably tied way of expressing yourself that I think it can be really effective. With the press of a button, you can reach millions of people, and even if just a fraction of those people stand up and do something about a cause, it really makes a difference.

The #3890Tigers campaign — a partnership between Tiger Beer and the World Wildlife Fund — aims to raise awareness and funding for tiger conservation efforts around the globe. There are just 3,890 tigers left in the wild, according to the WWF; the campaign wants to double that number by 2022 — the next year of the Zodiac tiger.

To join the efforts, supporters are encouraged to delete their profile pictures to raise awareness about the disappearing wild tiger population. Over the past 100 years, human activity has killed about 96% of the species, largely due to poaching and habitat loss.

Supporters can also create a selfie celebrating tigers on the campaign website, as Quinto has done below, to share on their social feeds, as well as donate to the WWF. Tiger Beer, which has already donated $1 million toward the nonprofit, is matching new gifts up to $25,000.

Photo courtesy of Tiger Beer/World Wildlife Fund/Zachary Quinto.

Learn more about the campaign to save the tigers and take action.

Disclaimer: Upworthy does not have a business partnership with either Tiger Beer or the World Wildlife Fund and was not paid to write about the campaign. We will always be up front with you if we were.

The chimpanzee population in West Africa has declined sharply over the past few decades — more than 90% in Côte d'Ivoire alone.

Project Primates, a U.S.-based not-for-profit group, is working to preserve and protect these beautiful creatures and their habitats. That's why they launched the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC).


Ten-month-old Soumba is left alone momentarily for the first time since her arrival at the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in 2015. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

The Chimpanzee Conservation Center rescues, rehabilitates, and, when possible, releases healthy chimps back into the wild.

The CCC, located inside the Haut Niger National Park in the West African nation of Guinea, is home to 50 young, orphaned western chimpanzees who are often sold into the pet trade after their mothers and other adult family members are killed for bushmeat.

Volunteer Anissa Aidat holds new arrival Kandar. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

When the chimpanzees arrive at the sanctuary, they often suffer from diseases related to their captivity.

Veterinary volunteer Christina Collell performs a health check on new arrival Kandar. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

Respiratory and skin diseases are common, as are malnutrition and psychological conditions, all of which require round-the-clock care.

Anissa Aidat gives N'Dama a milk substitute. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

After a brief period of quarantine, keepers care for the animals in age-appropriate habitats.

The CCC is just over 3,700 square miles of dry forest and grassland. There, with the help of staff and volunteers, the animals learn how to be wild animals, something few of the animals had the chance to experience.

Keeper Fayer Kourouma with a chimp during a hike. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

They make nests, go for walks in the bush, forage, learn to climb, and discover how to communicate and work with other chimpanzees.

Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

As the chimps get older and more reliant on their peers, human contact is limited to better prepare them for release and life in the wild.

Keeper Fayer Kourouma and a chimp share sugarcane. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

This rehabilitation process requires lots of patience. Preparing a chimp to return to the wild can take more than 10 years!

The CCC released its first group of chimpanzees in 2008, right in the Haut Niger National Park, not far from the sanctuary. The animals are equipped with tracking devices to monitor their location, and since the sanctuary is so close to the release site, volunteers and staff can protect the animals from poachers and other threats. So far, the released chimpanzees are thriving and interacting with the wild population. It's truly the best outcome, and hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Keeper Albert Wamouno and Hawa. Photo by Dan Kitwood, Getty Images Reportage.

In late March 2016, World Wildlife Fund researchers celebrated the reappearance of the incredibly rare Sumatran rhino.

Image from International Rhino Foundation/WIkimedia Commons.


On March 12, 2016, a female Sumatran rhino was captured in a pit trap in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesian Borneo. It was the first time in 40 years that one had been seen in the flesh.

The World Wildlife Fund called her story a "new hope."

Just one month later, the celebration ended abruptly when the captured Sumatran rhino, named Najaq, has died.


A leg infection seems to have been the cause of death, although a post-mortem is still being conducted as of this writing.

Though Najaq's death is sad, there is good news to share.

For a long time, it was thought there were no more Sumatran rhinos in Kalimantan. There were only a small population on the Malaysian side of the island (declared extinct in 2015), so many people thought these animals were just about gone forever.

But we were wrong. And that's very, very good.

Unlike its more sparsely coiffed cousins, the Sumatran rhino is covered in hair. Image from Ltshears/Wikimedia Commons.

Sumatran rhinos are one of the most endangered large animals on the planet. There are estimated to be fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild.

In fact, up until 2013, when a World Wildlife Fund team found rhino footprints in the jungle (and managed to photograph a Sumatran rhino via an automatic camera trap), the species was considered extinct in Kalimantan.

We now know that at least 15 Sumatran rhinos still exist in Borneo.

15 is not a lot, but for an animal thought to be gone, it's a remarkable number.

Even better — we know how save them.

Sumatran rhinos, like many species in Borneo, are threatened by both poachers and habitat loss. They need the forests and jungles to survive, but many wild places are being destroyed to make room for mining, plantations, and logging operations.


This land was cleared for a palm oil plantation in Malaysian Borneo. Image from T. R. Shankar Raman/Wikimedia Commons.

By creating sanctuaries for these animals we can give them the homes they need to survive.

Sanctuaries like Way Kamblas National Park, for instance. Way Kamblas is a protected area in Sumatran Indonesia that is home to a number of Sumatran rhinos that are protected by their own anti-poaching squad.

A worker and Rosa the rhino, who was transported to Way Kamblas to help establish a breeding population. Image via Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images.

What's more, by supporting the use of sustainable palm oil (which is used in more products you every day than you can even imagine), which many companies are already doing, we can help protect the forests outside of these designated sanctuaries.

Najaq's death is sad, but we're being given an incredible opportunity to save a species once thought to be lost.

“We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species,”said Dr. Efransjah, CEO of WWF-Indonesia, when they found Najaq in the pit trap.


Rosa the rhino in the Way Kambas Sanctuary. Image from Willem v Strien/Flickr.

Najaq may have died, but her life truly did give a new hope to the preservation of her species.

We have the opportunity. We know what to do. We just need to act.

Let's talk elephants – we all know elephants, right? Big, gray, some in Africa and some in Asia. We all know elephants. There are a ton of elephant facts out there.

But what I'm about to tell you are no ordinary elephant facts. These elephant facts are totally bananas. 14 of them. 14 totally bananas elephant facts.


Are you ready?

1. Ancient elephant relatives were weirdos.

The platybelodon demonstrating that every body is a beach body. Image from Margret Flinsch/Wikimedia Commons.

There are currently two species of elephant — the Asian and the African elephant — but they have a long family tree. A long, very weird family tree. In addition to the woolly mammoth and mastodon, there were strange elephant-platypus-looking hybrids like the platybelodon, with its shovel-like jaws, or deinotherium, a species with tusks that pointed backward. Backward!

2. Speaking of weird relatives, the Mediterranean used to be home to a species of miniature elephants.

Image from ninjatacoshell/Wikimedia Commons.

Called dwarf elephants, these guys were found on islands such as Crete and Sicily.

3. A white elephant is a real thing.

Image from Walters Art Museum/Wikimedia Commons.

If you've ever received an automatic egg cooker or a leg lamp at an office party, you're probably familiar with the term "white elephant" — a gift you don't want but can't refuse. But did you know a white elephant is a real animal?

A white elephant is another name for a very pale, often albino, elephant. In some southeast Asian countries like Thailand and India, a white elephant is a sign of good luck.

So what do they have to do with stuff from SkyMall magazine?

Well, according to legend, the King of Thailand would occasionally give one of his sacred white elephants to a political enemy of his. The enemy couldn't exactly turn down a gift from the king, and it was considered impolite to use a sacred animal as a glorified pack mule, so they just had to keep it, leaving the elephant to eat the poor sap out of house and home. That's the legend anyway.

4. And, actually, a white elephant isn't actually white.

Image from Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons.

An albino elephant is actually kind of reddish-brown or pinkish. Both Indian and African elephants can be albinos.

5. Hannibal really did march elephants over the Alps.


Image by Henri Motte/Wikimedia Commons.

In 218 B.C., a Carthaginian general named Hannibal decided to invade Roman Italy. And Hannibal wanted to bring his famous war elephants. The problem? He was in Spain, with thousands of miles and multiple mountain ranges between him and Rome.

So what did he do? He marched his entire army including — yes — his elephants, right over the Alps. Talk about dedication.

Though maybe he would have had more luck trying to swim across because:

6. Elephants are great in the water...

No one will expect an attack ... from the aqueduct! Image from Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia Commons.

Though they might not look it, elephants are practically synchronized swimmers. An elephant's trunk can even be used like a snorkel, which is just brilliant.

7. ...but they're not so great on the basketball court.

Elephants can't jump, but they can still dunk. Image from Charlesjsharp/Wikimedia Commons.

Elephants can't jump. They're just too big and weigh too much. Although, really, if we're still talking basketball, that might not matter so much considering they can be 11 feet tall!

8. They live in dusty habitats but still keep their homes in order.

Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr.

Elephants help keep their homes healthy. They pull down trees and bushes, which helps the grass grow. They dig up salt licks and water holes that other animals need to survive. Even their poop is important! And because elephants are so important, they have a special designation: a keystone species. Like how a keystone keeps an arch intact, keystone species keep their environment intact.

9. Elephants hate bees.

Image from David Brossard/Flickr.

Elephants will sometimes raid people's crops. And it turns out, it's really hard to design a fence that'll stop a 12,000-pound animal. Wood? Smash. Stone? Smash. Electric? Smash smash smash. Unfortunately, this drives many poor farmers to use guns or other weapons to try to drive the elephants away.

But we may have found a secret weapon to deter elephants: bees. Thousands and thousands of bees. Elephants hate bees. They'll even run away from just the sound of them! A nonprofit known as The Elephants and Bees Project is helping farmers build bee fences around their property. The end result is safer crops, safer farmers, and safer elephants.

10. And they can use mirrors.

Image from Brian Snelson/Flickr.

The mirror test is a classic experiment to see if an animal is self-aware. Most animals don't understand that a mirror is a reflection of themselves. This is why your cat sometimes freaks out when it sees its own reflection: It thinks it's another cat. But some animals, including humans, great apes, dolphins, and — yes — elephants can recognize that the handsome hunk in the mirror is their own reflection.

11. Elephants can hear through their feet.

Image from Michael Pereckas/Flickr.

Elephants can make a bunch of different sounds, including noises so deep that human ears can't hear them. But elephants can also communicate by ground stomps, which send vibrations through the ground. Other elephants then pick up these vibrations through pressure-sensitive nerves in their feet.

12. Elephants can be right-tusked or left-tusked.

Image from Unsplash/Pixabay.

Elephant tusks are modified incisors — essentially giant buck teeth — and can be used as weapons, shovels, and ornaments. And just like humans are right-handed or left-handed, elephants develop a certain preference for using one tusk or the other.

13. But those tusks can be a huge liability.


Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie/Flickr.

There may have once been as many as 5 million African elephants, but today there are just under half a million. One of the big drivers of this population decline has been poaching — people shooting and killing elephants just for their ivory.

Though many nations have now outlawed ivory sales, poaching is still estimated to kill 30,000-50,000 elephants a year.

14. In fact, poaching might actually be pushing elephants to evolve not to have tusks altogether.

Image from Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons.

Because poachers are targeting and killing elephants with big, impressive tusks, this may actually end up pushing future elephant generations to have smaller tusks or no tusks at all.

Elephants without tusks is crazy, and the fact that it's even a possibility is even crazier! How about we just not kill them at all? Would that be so hard?

2016 is supposed to be the Chinese Year of the Monkey. Instead, WildAid, a conservation nonprofit, is suggesting we wish people a happy Year of the Elephant.

Maybe if we can get everyone on board, we can help stamp out the ivory trade once and for all. A bunch of celebrities have already signed on to this idea including Lupita Nyong'o, Yao Ming, and Jackie Chan – Jackie Chan!


Don't disappoint Jackie Chan. Image from Lee M. McCaskill/U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons.

Watch WildAid's surprisingly catchy video below and wish people a Xiàng Nián Kuài Lè — Happy Year of the Elephant!