Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, September 11, 2017

Contact:  Roger Peet, (503) 753-7027, 
Jonathan Evans, (213) 598-1466,
Fernando “Rush” Santos, (510) 612-1905,

Oakland Endangered Species Mural Celebration Set for Friday

California Grizzly Makes Comeback in National Project

OAKLAND, Calif.— Artists, activists and community groups will celebrate the unveiling of three new California grizzly bear murals in Oakland on Friday, the latest installment in the Center for Biological Diversity’s national endangered species mural project.

California’s iconic golden bear graces the state flag, but has been absent from the state for almost a century. The grizzly makes a symbolic return this Friday in a series of murals in the Laurel District depicting the spirits of grizzly bears.

“When we lose wildlife, we lose a lot of what makes a place unique, and we lose our connection to history,” said Roger Peet, artist and endangered species mural project coordinator. “These murals represent the holes left in our landscapes when iconic species like the grizzly bear disappear. California is poised to reclaim that lost history by bringing grizzlies and other animals back to the state's great wildlands.”

The series of grizzly bears — nicknamed the “Laurel space bears” because of the galaxies in their silhouettes — will be painted along MacArthur Boulevard at three locations between High Street and Maybelle Avenue this week by artists Roger Peet and Fernando “Rush” Santos. Santos teaches art at Lazear Charter Academy in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood and is working with students and East Oakland youth to help paint the murals.

“I want kids to be inspired like I was the first time I helped paint a patch of grass on a mural at my school library in fourth grade,” Santos said. “Connecting kids with murals in their neighborhood helps them take ownership of their community and find inspiration in art and their environment.”

What: Endangered Species Mural Project public celebration. Artists Roger Peet and Rush Santos will be available for interviews at the site this week as they paint. The artists and Center for Biological Diversity staff will attend the mural celebration.

When: Friday, September 15, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Degrees Plato Tap Room Bottle Shop & Kitchen, 4251 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619.

Grizzly bears are the largest omnivores in North America. They once roamed throughout the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area, but California’s state animal was hunted to extinction in the state in the 1920s. The Center’s Bring Back the Bears campaign urges state and federal wildlife agencies to reintroduce the grizzly bear into California’s remote wilderness areas to help the species recover.

“Art inspires us to create a better future and more sustainable connections between human communities and imperiled wildlife,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center and an Oakland resident. “We hope this mural inspires people to learn more about saving endangered species and connect with California’s golden bear.” 

The Center's endangered species mural project has installed 13 murals in public spaces around the country. Regional murals already in place include the yellow-billed cuckoo in Los Angeles; a jaguar in Tucson, Ariz.; and freshwater mussels in Knoxville, Tenn.

Oakland’s murals are a collaboration between the Center, residents with the Laurel Village Association and businesses in Oakland’s Laurel District, including the High Street Pharmacy, Degrees Plato, Pet Choice and Beast Oakland. Financial support has been provided by the Center, Visit Oakland and the city of Oakland’s Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council.

Grizzly bear

Photo by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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