Last week from Stanley Gibbons I received an inviting offer to invest in a very, very rare Victorian stamp.
Here at Newquay Zoo www.newquayzoo.org.uk and my colleagues at Edinburgh Zoo www.edinburghzoo.org, we are very used to working with often very, very rare animals. The kind that feature on the IUCN Red Data list www.iucnredlist.org of endangered animals. If we do our work well, they will became less rare and more common (or at least less endangered and better protected).
Charles Darwin on his travels around the world and his visits to early zoos like London Zoo ZSL saw some now exceptionally rare animals, even some that are now extinct. The Warrah or Falkland Islands wolf (Dusicyon australis, pictured above) is one such recently extinct animal. So no chance of Sandie Robb (co-compiler of Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps) seeing one on her recent Falklands expedition twinning Falklands schools with ones in Scotland. http://rzssfalklands.wordpress.com and www.rzss.org.uk/education/school/falkland_islands_project.html
Darwin discovered dinosaur bones for other long extinct creatures in South America, being an early palaeontologist and geologist. He even stopped passed Mauritius on his route home on the HMS Beagle, narrowly missing seeing the Dodo by a century or two.
Breeding rare animals in a well-managed conservation programme is obviously important and you can find more about this on our zoo websites, along with our networks www.biaza.org.uk, www.eaza.net and www.waza.org .
I’m not sure if Stanley Gibbons or collectors and investors in very rare stamps would be very impressed if we suddenly produced lots more of a rare stamp like the one we were offered by their investment site. They might be a bit suspicious of forgery.
” Today’s Top Tip – An Undervalued Rarity received from firstname.lastname@example.org 10th January 2009
“One of the most important stamps from the British Empire. Our Philatelic Director produced the description of this item. As it is a bit technical in nature, I have simply highlighted in “bold” the important aspects influencing its investment quality to help you understand why it is so special.
Slight gum crease at foot but very fine appearance and excessively rare.
This first Richardson printing, using paper supplied from London, represents the initial production of postage stamps in New Zealand. A very important and desirable stamp. Stamp comes with a British Philatelic Association certificate (1990).(catalogue value: £32,000)
Price: £24,000 This stamp is the finest of the three in existence …”
and so the email temptingly went on. Not having £32,000 or even £24,000 spare, I didn’t take Stanley Gibbons up on their kind offer. Our zoo directors might wonder where their zoo budgets had gone.
Was this a natural extinction such as the dinosaurs?
Was it unnatural and influenced by man such as the Dodo or Falklands Wolf?
What causes animals to become extinct?
What causes animals to become endangered?
What rare or endangered animals do we have in Britain?
What can zoos, conservation and nature organisations do to help prevent extinction in the future?
We look forward to hearing from you via the blog about ways that you have used the Darwin book or stamps in your classroom or craftroom.