‘Little Things That Run the World’

By on September 16, 2015

Innovators to speak at WILD Festival

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Growing up in Alabama, E.O. Wilson began studying ants at the age of nine. He ultimately uncovered connections between insects and animal behavior that changed the way scientists view animals. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author hailed as a modern Darwin is considered the father of sociobiology and biodiversity.

His passion for what he calls “these little things that run the world” led him to curate one of the largest insect collections on the globe at Harvard, compelling biologists to think about human nature, ethics, religion and where we come from.

“Humanity struggles are due to the fact that we are a dysfunctional species,” he says in the finalist film “Of Ants and Men.”  “Why? Because we have Paleolithic emotions. We have medieval institutions and on top of all that we’ve developed God-like technology and that’s a dangerous mix.”

Author Carl Safina anticipates his first visit to Jackson Hole. He will be introducing Howard and Michele Hall, legendary divers and filmmakers who he deems “true luminaries,” after the screening of “Humpback Whales.”

Safina, who started the Safina Center at Stony Brook University in New York, said through his writing that focuses on oceans, he seeks to connect people. “We are profoundly ignorant of the simplest things, like where our water and food comes from,” he said. “The deeper connections, our relations to other animals, our connections back through the ages and into the future — many people never really consider these things that make us who we are, and make other creatures who they are. I think humility and perspective and a deep sense of time are all crucial to the continuation of life on Earth and human dignity. The most important story is that all life is one.”

Dr. Alan Rabinowitz has been called “The Indiana Jones of Wildlife Conservation” by TIME Magazine. The leading tiger expert and CEO of Panthera will speak after the premiere screening of “Tiger Tiger,” a personal film that follows him into a mangrove forest on the India-Bangladesh border on a mission to save the last wild tigers.

“On the one hand, (big cats) inspire fear, wonder and awe in the human psyche, while on the other, they stabilize and help balance the ecological food webs to which they belong,” he said.  “But beauty, strength and power are often the first ephemeral characteristics that humans try to somehow wrest from the natural world and take as their own. Despite their strength, resilience and ecological importance, humans continue to hunt big cats for trophies, for medicinal use or as pests, and destroy their natural habitat and prey species on which they depend. Why? Partly because these big, powerful apex predators have no human voice. I want to help give them a voice in the world.”

His latest books — one a children’s book about jaguars — will be for sale at the festival. Books by Safina, Wilson, Cynthia Moss, who is the founder of the Amboseli Elephant Trust in Kenya, and Ben Masters, the author of “Unbranded,” will also be available. “Unbranded” is the story of four young cowboys who rode wild mustangs from Mexico to Canada to inspire more adoptions and honor the public lands where they roam. The film of the same name premieres at the festival Friday.

Here’s a lineup of WILD’s evening premiere screenings and talks, which begin at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $5-$25, depending on the event, and are available at the Center for the Arts box office. For a full schedule visit JHWild.org.

Saturday, Sept. 26 – “Soul of the Elephant” followed by a conversation with elephant experts Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole and filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert and a book signing

Sunday, sept. 27 – “Humpback Whales” followed by Carl Safina interviewing ocean experts Howard and Michele Hall and a book signing

Monday, sept. 28 – Kirk Johnson, head of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, will interview E.O. Wilson, followed by a book signing

Tuesday, sept. 29 – Free screening of “Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise – New Blood”

Wednesday, sept. 30 – Premiere screening of “Tiger Tiger” with Filmmaker George Butler and his subject Dr. Alan Rabinowitz followed by a book signing

Friday, oct. 1 – Premiere screening of “Racing Extinction”

Saturday, oct. 2 – World premiere of Brain Farm’s “Wild Yellowstone”

Valley Bookstore will host book signings by Cynthia Moss, E.O. Wilson, Carl Safina and Dr. Alan Rabinowitz at 6 p.m. on the evening of their appearances. An exhibition of photographs by National Geographic and Tom Mangelsen will be on display in the Center lobby. And Mangelsen and journalist Todd Wilkinson will also host a slideshow and book signing at 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3 before the premiere of “Wild Yellowstone.”

Credit: pbs

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