Empire State Building Projects Cecil the Lion, Endangered Animals

Published: September 4, 2015

The Empire State Building in New York City recently became a beacon of hope for animal conservationists around the world, after it was lit up with images of endangered species.

On August 1, over 40 animals were projected onto the façade of one of New York City’s most famous landmarks, with Cecil the Lion also given a touching memorial during the presentation. Zimbabwe’s most famous big cat was killed by an American dentist in late July sparking outrage from millions around the world and condemnation from animal rights groups.

Photos: Empire State Building Projection Show

The project had in fact been planned before Cecil was killed, however due to the mass media exposure and the public outcry surrounding the incident, the lion was added to the reel which included over 40 other animals that face extinction. Animals included various snakes, tigers, lemurs and a snow leopard.

The imagery was part of the ‘Projecting Change’ light show, which is aimed at raising awareness of endangered species and is linked to an upcoming documentary dubbed ‘Racing Extinction.’

Louie Psihoyos, the project’s creator, hired Travis Threlkel of Obscura Digital with the hopes of creating “the most dramatic thing we could do to get the world to know about what we’re losing,” he told a New York Times reporter.

The project utilized 40 stacked, 20,000 lumen projectors set up on the roof of a building on West 31st Street. Taking up 33 floors of the Empire State Building, Projecting Change is said to have cost more than $1 million.

This is the first time that the Empire State Building has had an image projected on the side of its façade—and it went successfully. Thousands of people took to social media to share images and videos of the 5K projection, making the three years’ worth of battling with local authorities well worth it.

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