Consider these six degrees of separation…
1. A sensitive, beautiful IMAX 3D documentary film, ‘Born To Be Wild’ has recently opened to strong positive reviews. This film depicts the work of two women who work tirelessly, one with orphan African elephants and the other with orphan Asian orangutans. Both populations are endangered due to human impact.
2. ‘Born To Be Wild’ was directed by David Lickley.
3. David Lickley is Director of large-format films at Science North.
4. Science North is located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
5. Science North recently hosted the successful ‘Going Wild’ gala.
6. John Kay, lead singer of Steppenwolf, and his wife/life/foundation partner, Jutta Maue Kay, were chief guests of honour at the gala. No missing the obvious movie title tie-in to one of Steppenwolf’s greatest successes, Born To Be Wild.
Husband and I were lucky to be part of the intimate ‘Going Wild’ black-tie fundraising gala at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario. Net proceeds will support an excellent cause – teen educational programs. Also proudly on display at the 27-year old facility, were their recent ‘renewal’ and a special global wildlife rescue exhibit.
Science North, an important science centre and agency of the Government of Ontario, is a popular tourist attraction and a crucial educational resource for all ages. It offers an IMAX theatre, butterfly gallery, planetarium, earth sciences centre (Dynamic Earth) and much research goes on. Science North is home to an award-winning large-format film production unit specializing in environmental and natural history projects. Prior to ‘Born To Be Wild’, they have produced other giant-screen films including Bears, Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees and Mysteries of the Great Lakes.
Science North and Sudbury go hand in hand. Located about a four hour drive north of bustling Toronto, Greater Sudbury has a population of about 160,000. You need not drive, but if you do, you will see gorgeous lake-dotted, forested countryside and much Canadian Shield, scrubbed smooth and striated by prehistoric glaciation. Some of this land belongs to Canadian First Nations, so you see several small residential developments, some sadly economically challenged.
Home of the ‘Big Nickel’ monument, Sudbury has a history of mining and rich mineral deposits, notably nickel and copper attributed to a meteorite impact some 1.85-billion years ago. Local ores contain much sulfur. Sulfuric acid released via smelting fell as acid rain which caused vast damage to vegetation and wildlife. Also culpable was serious logging for early smelting and construction. Several decades ago Sudbury began ‘re-greening’, reclaiming carries on. A gazillion trees have been planted, land acidity successfully counteracted with widespread application of alkaline limestone.
During the Apollo manned lunar exploration program, some NASA astronauts trained in Sudbury to become familiar with rock formations associated with meteorite impacts.
A subject of the film – The David Sheldrick Foundation has been occasionally covered in TV news magazines for a couple of decades. This foundation is all about rescue, loving care and fostering of elephant calves orphaned by hunting and severe poaching for ivory in Kenya. The Sheldricks first developed a feeding formula for these mama-less babies, without which they would surely perish. Though David Sheldrick is now gone, Dame Daphne Sheldrick, her daughter Angela and all the caretakers toil tirelessly on – they are angels and saints!
The other subject of the film – Dr. Birute Galdikas’ Orangutan Foundation International works with these highly intelligent large primates in Borneo. Orphaned due to loss of forest habitats, babies are rescued, tended and later reintroduced into their natural wilds by loving caretakers. A naturalized Canadian, Dr. Galdikas is one of famed paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey’s personally chosen ‘Leakey’s Angels’. These three female researchers/experts being Jane Goodall who works with chimpanzees, Dian Fossey who worked with gorillas and Birute Galdikas and her auburn-haired ‘people of the forest’.
Over the decades, iconic rock band Steppenwolf’s lead singer has evolved into an ardent environmentalist. John and Jutta Maue Kay’s ‘Maue Kay Foundation’ has a primary nature conservancy mission. The Kays have supported both above-mentioned foundations for several years with tireless advocacy and solid ongoing financial support. They foster many orphan ‘elies’. John’s rock concert earnings go towards the good works of their foundation.
So, we monkey-suited up for the gala! To start the evening, we mixed over cocktails in a large reception hall and perused the interesting special exhibit. Then we moved on to a fantastic cavernous space elegantly set for dinner. This space is literally carved out of local bedrock! Table centerpieces were imaginatively designed to depict an endangered species – ours contained green bamboo shoots for the giant panda. A tasty dinner was prepared by the local fine ‘Ristorante Verdicchio’, aptly ‘science-infused’, beautifully plated molecular gastronomy with a nod to local ingredients.
John Kay’s after-dinner speech was impassioned, informative and inspiring. Slides in the background were organized from personal archives by Ms. Maue Kay. Then followed a live auction of donated items. Local dining, golf, spa, entertainment and adventure packages plus signed John Kay memorabilia. Husband enthusiastically bid and won the signed poster for me though we have zip spare wall space. Going once, going twice, sold for a good cause!
Then we all returned to the central hall for a performance by Mr. Kay, ably backed by local musicians who had worked hard at perfecting the tunes. Just imagine Rock Me Baby, Sookie Sookie, Ride With Me, Magic Carpet Ride, Born To Be Wild and The Pusher in such an intimate setting! This was primo part of the evening for me as I have been a Steppenwolf fan for at least 40 years. No mean feat as am only 29!
Now the movie – run, don’t walk. Go solo, take your best guy, gal, pal, kids or grandkids. The subject matter is serious but the treatment is stunning. You will feel like you are right there – among the cutest elephants and orangutans, right where they live with their amazing caretakers. You will laugh, you may cry. You will be transformed and edified by the life work of the two resilient women involved. Kids may reconsider what they want to be when they grow up – animal caretakers, scientists, veterinarians, definitely protectors of the earth, even filmmakers! You will want to contribute to these organizations in any little way you can. And Morgan Freeman’s trusted mellifluous narrative voice doesn’t hurt
We need to step back, take a breather, then work hard at living in harmony with all species on the planet. We are interwoven in ways that will not be apparent until it is too late. Easy to forget when we are living ‘me first’ in ‘interesting times’.
The born wild need our help to live wild.
“Born To BE Wild 3D” opens nationwide April 8th. Visit www.imax.com/borntobewild to learn about the movie and to find out what you can do. For ticket information: www.imax.com/movies/m/born-to-be-wild-3d/