Oklahoma City Zoo Launches NFTs For Orangutan Conservation

These days, it is not unusual to see NFTs be leveraged for goodwill purposes. From assets being sold to raise funds for Ukraine to NFTs allegedly being used to save the Amazon Rainforest, the metaverse is being brought into the world of non-profits.

The latest of these comes from the Oklahoma City Zoo which has announced the launch of NFTs to benefit international orangutan day on August 19, 2022. In honour of the day, the zoo will be auctioning 20 unique artworks that have been created by its resident orangutan named Elok.

All About the Project

Elok, the 21-year-old orangutan who created the artworks, did so through digital paintings. Now, the paintings will be auctioned on OpenSea from August 19 to August 22, 2022. The starting price on each of the NFTs is about $500.

According to the zoo, Elok made the paintings using a modified paintbrush and an Xbox. While the orangutan has previously made paintings on physical canvas, this was his first time doing so digitally. To spark his imagination, the zoo says, Elok was given puzzles and other creative tasks. 

As he made the paintings each day, he got treats in return and the activity was also used to keep him active and healthy. Over time, the zoo says, he got more enthusiastic about the exercise. 

“You could see that learning as he went through the process and once he understood it, then he got a little bit more into it,” says  Tracey Dolphin, the curator of primates at the Oklahoma Zoo. 

Oklahoma City Zoo Launches NFTs For Orangutan Conservation

Once the auction is held, the funds will first be donated to the Leuser Conservation Forum, and will then be used to conserve Elok’s native habitat in Indonesia. As explained by the zoo, primate populations around the world are facing extinction and this is often due to many factors, including illegal hunting and trade. 

Other organizations will also benefit from the fundraising and the zoo says that this will go a long way to protect the Orangutan population around the world. 

“Most people won’t have an opportunity to see a wild orangutan and a lot of people don’t know what’s happening to orangutans and their habitat, or to the other species that share the forest they live in, and our animals are a good way to introduce people to that and make them care about something that’s happening on the other side of the planet,” says Rebecca Snyder, the Oklahoma zoo’s director of conservation and science. 

NFTs; a Force For Good

NFTs’ applications in the world go beyond just speculative assets and cultural movements. They are, in fact, fast becoming a modern way to raise funds for good causes. 

In the past, this sort of initiative would have featured physical art made by Elok that could be sold to those who bid in person. Now, these digital creations can be bought by anyone anywhere in the world who wants to support the conservation of an endangered species, all thanks to NFTs.


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