Going Wild for “Born To Be Wild” By Meera Kamra-Kelsey

John Kay of Steppenwolf

John Kay of Steppenwolf

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, Sudbury

Science North, Sudbury

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.

Big Nickel

Big Nickel

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’.

John Kay & Jutta Maue Kay

John Kay & Jutta Maue Kay

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!

John Kay with Sudbury band

John Kay with Sudbury band

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!

Husband, me, Jutta, pals

Husband, me, Jutta, pals

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/

21 Responses to “Going Wild for “Born To Be Wild” By Meera Kamra-Kelsey”

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  1. Vicki Gilhula says:

    Finally caught up with you….glad you enjoyed your visit.

  2. Diane & Paul says:

    Hats off to the Kays for their efforts on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves.

    Kudos to you, Meera, for once again writing an informative and interesting article and bringing the film to our attention!

  3. Terry Cotton says:

    Meera now that I have had a chance to see the documentary film/movie, it is a great tribute to the people who work so hard to give us all a future and a chance to share such dynamic animals in our world for years to come.

    It is sad however to see just how unfortunate the situation is, and perhaps a missed opportunity to reveal the brutal cause for a human hand up for these beautiful animals. It is sad not only for this sector of wild life but for so many in other parts of the world. I live a short distance from the Canadian Rocky Mountains and I see just how difficult it is for the Grizzly Bear to lay claim to its natural territory; OR what about the new American legislation to deny protection for the recently reintroduction of wolves to the Yellow Stone area of western USA. One becomes frustrated when the North American hunters are lining to pay up to $250,000.00 to “bag a big Grizzly”. Why is an ivory tusk or a Grizzly Bear hide so much more beautiful hanging on a wall? I think a documentary film about the brutal cause of the abuse of wild life and just who benefits would make an interesting view. BUT for now lets enjoy the fact that we can find people in the world who care

    When chatting with Meera I agreed this is a film for young people. Viewing should be encouraged by schools, libraries; all places child friendly. They, I honestly believe can make the difference!

    Meera as for “Steppenwolf” we are all products of the 70’s!
    Calgary Alberta

  4. M De-Kelsey says:

    Once again, I am just pleased to see another well done article wriiten by you. I can’t wait to see the movie! It is good to know that are still people ‘out there’ who value life, other than their singular human existence. We all live together in the village called Earth. XXXX MMAT

  5. Dennis Laird says:

    Hi Meera.

    You sure lead an exciting life with “husband”. Another great piece!
    I don’t know where you find the time to put together a comprehensive and well researched blog like this. You must really enjoy doing it…and it shows.
    Anyway, congratulations…and best wishes to you both.

    Warm regards

  6. Meera says:

    Husband and I saw the film yesterday as we could NOT wait any longer. To say it blew us away would be diminishing it.

    I thought I knew a fair amount about the two amazing women involved but this gives their work a lot of attention. The animals are fantastic, their keepers are angels and the work is SO essential. We are not very different from the subjects of the movie. You pose many questions to yourself and the world plus end up with a bit of a sinking feeling. I wish there were ways we could live without palm oil in so many items we consume and I wish ivory was not considered so precious. It is to elephants but really, it’s just a boring off-white solid, no?

    Lots of people ought to see it, especially children. Should be part of Science class or World Affairs. The filming and events are so spectacular, it is almost an action film. The film crew were excellent plus lucky.

    I know that I will see it again, probably a few times. IMAX 3D for sure! Perhaps I will not have tears running down my face all through the movie next time.

  7. Bharath says:

    Hey MK2,

    So well written! Didnt think it was possible, but now I want to watch this even more…. :)

    Get your motor running…..

    See you soon!

  8. Grace & Martin says:

    Meera – What a thrill for you both to be associated with this worthwhile project. Mr. & Mrs. Kay are to be commended for their endeavours. Your essay was most informative. Personally it brought back childhood memories of my abhorrence of caged animals in zoos, circuses ,etc. We plan on seeing the film, in fact it was discussed at my Friday Coffee Group this morning. Martin

  9. Jacqueline says:

    Excellent article Meera!
    As the organizer for the “Science North is Going Wild” Gala, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your kind words about the event, our science centre, our city and BTBW.
    When John Kay agreed to play at the event, it goes without saying that I was absolutely thrilled. But John didn’t just play… he made the event! His eloquent presentation, with Jutta’s photos in the background was completely captivating. People were at the edge of their seat. You could have heard a pin drop!
    The film is beautiful and inspiring. So much so that I too have now adopted an orphaned elephant and fostered a orangutan! We are very proud of David Lickley, a long-time Science North employee and Director of BTBW.
    I invite all who read your blog to visit Science North in Sudbury should they happen to be out this way. It would be my pleasure to take them on a tour!
    Thank you for the beautiful article Meera and come visit us again soon!

  10. Frank Pond says:

    Awesome article! I can’t wait to see the film (on May 8 in San Diego–Sudbury by the Sea–at another wonderful fundraiser for these worthy organizations). Thank you for your strong and heartfelt support for the film and its cause and for educating everyone about the Maue Kay Foundation which really helps put the Wild back onto our Mother Earth in a caring and careful way! Keep up the writing please–or I should never know what to do or where to go next!

  11. Pankaj Nangia says:

    Hi Meera,

    I’ve been a great fan of the Steppenwolf. Born to be wild was almost like an anthem in those days, blaring out of every friends hostel room or home. Will definitely see the film.
    You’ve done a good job. This is so different from a travel write up. Reporting and making it so interesting is an art. Well done.


  12. Doreen MacPherson says:

    Fantastic Meera, I really enjoyed every bit of it, well done.

    Hugs, Doreen

  13. Andrew & Sam Clowes says:

    Having just returned from Thailand and seeing these beautiful elephants close up and understanding the challenges faced in their natural environment. This is a vivid picture of the plight of a lone elephant, set against a contrasting Canadian shield, both suffering the effects of man’s irresponsibility. Meera, we were both very touched by this piece and depth of imagery.

  14. Ramma Kamra says:

    Wow! Meera Rani: You have woven even a serious subject, such as this one with a definite message, into a flowing, entertaining, treasure-trove of fact and empathy and then some, i.e. sprinkled it with humour. Yes, I am your witness and evidence that you have been a Steppenwolf fan for forty years, although you are only 29! Our home still vibrates with great music sounds. Love you, and always will. Yours, You Know Who.

  15. Meera, I could not have said it better myself ;-))
    You have a wonderful talent of pulling it all together in an informative and also very entertaining piece of writing. Bravo!!!
    x jutta

  16. Meera says:

    Terry, I too have read about the sad plight of the elephant prisoners in Edmonton and too many other zoos (T.O. included). In a zoo, it is just not possible for them to live in any way similar to their normal lives. What is normal for them in even their ‘safe’ environments?

    BTW, BTBW is a full-distribution IMAX film. I just checked, it is on at Chinook! Go see!

  17. Terry Cotton says:

    Meera let me say this is wonderful piece. The documentary deals with an animal that is getting lots of press out here. The seriously old and ill elephant in the Edmonton ZOO is alone with NO mate and is in tough shape Attempts are now on the way to have her moved to a sanctuary in the southern USA but zoo folks say she is too ill to travel. The other part of the gala is to be highly praised any time any where people pay attention children/ teens and education is to be highly commended. It was no doubt a fun evening.
    Best regards
    Linda and Terry
    PS Will the documentary be distriputed in other regions of Canada?

  18. Deborah Ise says:

    Always inspiring! Your writings make me feel connected to a greater world. It must be due to your connection to Indian sages and saints!

    Perfect photos!


  19. Sam Ghazouli says:

    Hi Meera,

    What can I say? you’ve done it again. Your writing is superb, witty, sensitive, and easy to read. The photo of you and Tasker is beautiful.

    Thank you for forwarding it to me. It’s a keeper.


    Evelin and Sam

  20. Carol Duffin says:

    Another very interesting article-you write to entertain and inform. I really enjoyed all the background info.

  21. Rick and Marilyn Hardabura says:

    Meera you are the best. U2 Tasker.

    We will go see the film for sure.
    Great article. Meera you are very talented. You should expand your writing talents.
    All the best
    The Doc and Marilyn