Edited to add: Craig Saffoe headed back to take care of the Zoo's Great Cats. Thanks all!

Science and art have come together to ignite change for the critically endangered Sumatran tiger. On Earth Day 2014, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and Atlantic Records’ indie band Portugal. The Man kicked off the “Endangered Song Project,” an analog-meets-digital outreach campaign that asked 400 participants to help raise awareness about the fact that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. The National Zoo and Portugal. The Man distributed a previously unreleased song titled “Sumatran Tiger” to 400 influencers on 400 custom polycarbonate records which will degrade after a certain amount of plays. With no other copies in existence, the 400 participants were tasked with digitizing and “breeding” the song through their social channels with the hashtag #EndangeredSong. The song will go extinct unless it’s digitally reproduced. The Sumatran tiger will go extinct unless we take action.

My Proof: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/craig-saffoe-managing-the-care-of-the-national-zoos-large-cats/2014/04/22/f6631524-ca26-11e3-95f7-7ecdde72d2ea_story.html


Comments: 312 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

karmanaut16 karma

Since every question in here so far is for the band:

Hi Craig!

  • How did you name the new baby tigers?

  • How do their personalities differ from a housecat?

  • What are the most significant challenges in creating and maintaining a habitat for the tigers?

  • do you do anything special to try and replicate the conditions of the wild for them?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo17 karma

How did you name the new baby tigers?: One tiger was named by an auction winner---Sukacita which means joy in Indonesian. Bandar was named by our keepers and it's a port city in Sumatra. How do their personalities differ from a housecat?: Does not differ much just on a larger scale. Each of our tigers has their own personality. Damai (mom) is relaxed and carefree. Sukacita is reserved but playful with her bro--she is also a mama's girl. Bandar is very chill but a boy who likes to antagonize his mom and sister. This all may change as they grow. What are the most significant challenges in creating and maintaining a habitat for the tigers?: Creating a habitat that has appropriate containment is a challenge---we use a water moat here and strategically placed fencing. do you do anything special to try and replicate the conditions of the wild for them?: Try to give them opportunities to behave similar to the wild---we can't replicate the wild. Try to give them all the opps to use their senses the way they would in the wild. Through enrichment toys, feeding strategies etc.

JapaneseGamer14 karma

what can I, a random dude on the internet, help with saving the sumatran tigers? Thank you guys for the awesome music, American ghetto is my favorite album!

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo14 karma

Thanks for asking! Here are some pointers beyond finding and sharing the #EndangeredSong!: 1) Do not support the illicit tiger trade by purchasing anything made with tiger pelts/skins, bone, meat etc. 2) Many products – especially food – are made with palm oil. Palm oil is produced in tiger-range countries and plantations can sometimes threaten valuable tiger habitat. Look for sustainable palm oil = wildlife friendly. 3) Learn about tigers and support the conservation efforts to save them—such as the Global Tiger Initiative which is working to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. 4) 6. Donate and support the National Zoo’s tiger conservation and outreach efforts: You can help here http://s.si.edu/1mA1zyf

Jstencl12 karma

How did you come up with the idea? Whose idea it was?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo13 karma

Of all the endangered animals in the world, what is it about the Sumatran tiger that compelled you guys to write a song to try and save them from extinction?

You probably know what the Smithsonian is, but may not know the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are part of it----so much more than museums. We have expert scientists that are working to save species around the world. Our goal was to tell our conservation story to new and different audiences. DDB Advertising provided pro bono services and helped us create the #EndangeredSong campaign. It blends science and music together to grab people’s attention about the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger. They love wildlife. We save wildlife. Great fit. Everyone can actually DO something to prevent extinction…whether it’s for a tiger or a song.

willtard11 karma

Why did you choose to support tigers instead of another animal native to your home that is in fear of being extinct? Don't get me wrong, I love tigers, but you guys are always "So Alaskan"... See what I did there

portugalthemanband19 karma

tigers are super badass. we are trying to think outside of our home, but obviously support conservation efforts up there as well. z

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo11 karma

I agree. You should see one kill a Sambar deer (in the wild, not at the Zoo). I am a tiger nerd.

Sixxish10 karma

Was there a defining moment where y'all came up with the idea for only releasing 400 albums or was it a long process? As in, did one day did someone just say "let's make an endangered song and release 400 copies since there are only 400 tigers?" Who reached out to who?

Also, John, I have kind of a huge favor to ask. Is there any possible way that you could draw a tattoo for me? I absolutely love P.tM and all the artwork you do with The Fantastic The and was planning on getting a PtM related tattoo anyways. But a personalized would would obviously be much more bitchin'. Can't wait to be seeing y'all next Saturday in Knoxville!!

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo11 karma

We think about the 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild all the time. We created a campaign and decided to build it around raising awareness for the tigers as they are captivating, beautiful animals. The Zoo worked with DDB NY who connected us to Portugal. The Man and they jumped in to help us.

Tiger_Finger9 karma

Hello! What can we, normal everyday people, do to help stop the extinction of not just the Sumatran Tiger, but all Tigers in general? It is to my knowledge that the whole species is in trouble. Is this true?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo10 karma

Share the #EndangeredSong! =) Don't buy anything made with tiger parts. Look for products made with sustainable palm oil. Support the Global Tiger Initiative. You can also support the Zoo's conservation and outreach efforts here: http://s.si.edu/1mA1zyf

mircat18 karma

Will the Smithsonian name any future baby tigers after you guys? Seems fair... Just wanted to say that you guys have gotten me excited about music again. Come to Florida, please!

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo10 karma

Anything is possible.

hockeybra7 karma

Of all the endangered animals in the world, what is it about the Sumatran tiger that compelled you guys to write a song to try and save them from extinction?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo5 karma

From the Zoo's perspective---We work to study and breed so many endangered species but we thought Sumatran tigers are so charismatic (e.g. pretty gorgeous) and people will shocked to learn there are only 400 left in the wild. Tigers are an umbrella species. Saving tigers mean saving their habitats. If we save tigers we will save much more than just them--their ecosystem and the other species in it.

Lord__Business6 karma

Hi guys, two questions:

  1. The song "Modern Jesus" is one of my favorites. Do you had any insight into its meaning that you would like to share?

  2. For all the cynics, why should we care about saving the Sumatran tiger? What makes this animal special and important?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo6 karma

Every animal is special and important. To see that an animal is on the brink of extinction and do nothing is irresponsible and makes me feel like less of a human. Tigers are more symbolic, it's not just about Sumatran tigers, it's stopping the extinction of a fellow species. It could be giant pandas. It could be cheetahs. It could be Cuban croc.

HeardsTheWord5 karma

The endangered song has obvious inspiration, and some of your other songs are about your home state of Alaska. Where else do you all pull your inspiration for your songs?

I'm stoked to see you guys play in Virginia on Tuesday!

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo8 karma

You can also see them at the National Zoo on Mon May 12!

izzyduzit325 karma

Have you gotten the chance to pet one of the tigers??

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo6 karma

The only time we get our hands on the tigers is when they are very young. At about 12 weeks old we stop as they are too big as they are tigers, dangerous.

m14monroe5 karma

Hello, big Portugal. The Man fan here. I actually had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing a Sumatran tiger in the wild when I was on a business trip in Indonesia. We took a few boat tours near Sumatra and saw a wild tiger in the water. My question, what is more important to the cause, raising money and support or spreading education and trying to solve the underlying cause of the hunting of these tigers?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo5 karma

Equally important, can't separate them. We need to do both. $ is great but ignorance is deadly.

Valoura3 karma

I've said it on your facebook, and I will say it in here again: this is probably the most original campaign I have seen afiliated with music, since I was born. And it's also a very important topic too, so, congratulations to Smithsonian for the idea, and thank you to Portugal. The Man for making excellent music, and for associating it with this awesome campaign.

Also, why don't you guys play in Portugal more often, we would really apreciate it! :)

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo3 karma

Thanks so much for the feedback. Bringing science and art together was inspiring to us and we now know inspiring to all of you. We are working to motivate the next gen of conservationists---and perhaps another great cats curator.

superapplee2 karma

As an environmental science student and a huge Portugal. The man fan, this project is phenomenal to me. Thank you so much for raising awareness about the harsh reality of where our world is going if we don’t make a change. The degradable record is an awesome metaphor for it. You guys are amazing. What exactly was it that inspired you to begin this project and how did you end up coming together with the National Zoo and the Conservation Biology Institute?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo2 karma

I know I am not the band but thanks for the feedback on the campaign. Psyched to learn you are an enviro science student. Our goal was to raise awareness for conservation science and the Sumatran tiger. DDB NY provided pro bono services and psyched to partner with Portugal. The Man to make it happen.

onemoreburton2 karma

What sort of things is the National Zoo doing to preserve this species? Also, I think this concept of an "endangered song" is amazing. Would you guys consider doing projects like this for other species of endangered animals?

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo3 karma

The Sumatran tigers at the Nat Zoo are part of an insurance population. Sumatran tigers living in zoos around the world will be all we have left if the species goes extinct in the wild. There are 400 in the wild, and fewer than that in accredited zoos. As a partner in the Global Tiger Initiative, our scientists also work in Asia helping people on the front lines of tiger conservation protect them. They help train people charged with protecting tiger habitats to use the latest technology to patrol. That technology creates maps and helps the frontline people patrol where they are needed most. It’s not the sexiest job in conservation, but it’s really important.

izzyduzit322 karma

How was it to see these tigers up close??

CraigSaffoe_NatZoo3 karma

Being able to be close to a Sumatran tiger is actually sobering. You know how beautiful they are, up close you can see their power. By sobering, I mean it emphasizes our place in the evolutionary food chain.