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24/10/2014

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Oi! Panda! Quit hogging the limelight!

Oi! Panda! Quit hogging the limelight!

by Simon Watt, President for Life of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society

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My name is Simon Watt and I am the President for Life of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society a comedy night with a conservation twist.  We invite stand-ups who dabble in science and scientists who dabble in stand-up to each comically champion a different ugly endangered species.  At the end of each night we give the audience the chance to vote for what will become the ugly animal mascot for their town.

The society has two aims.  Firstly, we want to raise the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged creatures.  Animals like the aye-aye and hagfish are too marvellous to go unnoticed.  Secondly, we hope to make conversations about conservation less depressing.  The threats to our planet’s biodiversity are both extensive and dire.  It is easy to become numb to all the bad news. We must laugh in the face of adversity.  At our comedy nights we celebrate just how weird and wonderful the world is.  We must not be superficial.  Beauty should be more than fur deep.

We have been touring the country. In London the people voted for the big-nosed, ginger and flatulent proboscis monkey.  In Cheltenham and Bristol they selected the three toed sloth on the basis that it was nature’s biggest loser. In Edinburgh they went for the gob-faced squid; a lopsided cephalopod with a strangely human mouth that lives in the depths of the ocean and in your nightmares.

Our tour continues and one of our next stops will be the British Science Festival in Newcastle; our biggest gig to date.  Not only will the people of Newcastle have the chance to choose their own munter of a mascot, but we will unveil what the UK’s favourite ugly animal is. Our society has grown and recently we have teamed up with the National Science and Engineering Competition to make some short election videos for YouTube.  These allow anyone with an internet connection to see some of what we do and give them a chance to vote for the species of their choice.  We have even created the Ugly Animal Road Show, a family-friendly performance that celebrates the incredible biology of the animal kingdom’s most minging.  This version will be available to go into schools and science fairs around the country in the very near future.

So if you think that it is time that that poser the panda stepped aside and that slugs and squid had their day, then join us in Newcastle to see what species is crowned the king of the mingers.

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