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CONTACT INFORMATION: Lori Stewart, Art For The Animals 831-624-8605

Art For The Animals 2005 Offerings Unveiled at Monterey Bay Aquarium Event Creative Program Turns Holiday Gift Giving into Wildlife Conservation

Carmel, CA, October 22, 2005 - Central Coasters looking for alternatives to traditional gift-giving this holiday season discovered just the thing last evening when AFTA Associates unveiled its 2005-2006 Art For The Animals Gifts of Giving program at a special event in the Outer Bay and Jellies: Living Art Exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Volunteers and representatives from several conservation organizations were on hand to explain the Art For The Animals program to guests, and show them how their gift donations support wildlife and nature conservancy and provide income to the artisans who create the folk and tribal art we use as donor premiums.

Conservation organizations have long promoted the idea of giving charitable donations as gifts during the holidays, but the Art For The Animals Program goes a step further. It takes the "gifts of giving" concept and then leverages this fund raising process to support the development and growth of 'conservation enterprises.' "By using folk art and nature-friendly goods from Africa, India, Asia, Asia Pacific, and Latin America as donor thank you gifts, we can help create new and hopefully sustainable markets for these products -- encouraging alternatives to resource depleting economic development. When we create new income streams for communities in which endangered animals live, we begin to address the underlying social and economic factors that really threaten the environment" says Lori Stewart founder of AFTA Associates, which runs the Art For The Animals program. "We give those communities both the incentives and resources to help preserve their environment.

"Art For The Animals is a unique conservation program," said Miles Roberts, Smithsonian said Miles Roberts, Deputy Head of the Department of Conservation Biology at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. "We know that the biggest threat to wildlife conservation is poverty - people need a way to make a living from something other than land use and resource depletion. Art For The Animals creates a circular connection between conservation, and the economic and cultural well being of local people.

This year, Art For The Animals is supporting 24 threatened or endangered species and habitats programs of 11 conservation and research organizations working around the world. To the extent available, Art For The Animals donor gifts are folk art and crafts made by artisan or crafts groups closely tied to these conservation organizations.

"'Oceans' may be among the most striking new programs featured due to increasing interest in ocean conservation, and in the remarkable story of the "Moken" boats we use as donor thank you gifts." notes Stewart. "After the Tsunami, we heard tales of wildlife sensing danger and heading for the hills, and of indigenous people, so in touch with nature, they knew to do the same. One such group, the Moken also known as "sea gypsies" live in the Andaman Sea on boats or islands off the coast of Myanmar - precisely where the Tsunami hit hardest. Like the elephants and dolphins, the Moken fled to higher ground or out to deeper waters long before the first wave struck. The people survived, but their villages and boats were destroyed. Some Moken are skilled craftsmen, so in order to make money to rebuild their fishing boats and villages, they started building model boats to sell to tourists - who haven't yet returned. $40-$200 donations to Oceans will benefit ocean conservation programs, and donors will receive an extraordinary carved wooden boat, helping the Moken preserve their unique and now-threatened culture.

"Snare Art" is apt to capture the imagination of thoughtful supporters of Painted Dog Conservation, which has contracted with local artists to create sculptures made from the snares removed from the bush by anti-poaching patrols. Donations to benefit Wildlife Conservation Network's Painted Dog Conservation program range from $250, for which donors receive an intricate snare wire sculpture, to $15, which is tied to a simple wire bracelet.

And lets not forget the ne plus ultra of holiday gifts, an authentic Mongolian, the large white felt tent that has been home to Mongolians for more that 2500 years. The $15,000 donation supports the International Snow Leopard Trust's (ISLT) and the Wild Camel Protection Foundation's work to find solutions to the long-standing conflicts between Mongolian herders and the endangered Snow Leopard and Wild Bactrian Camel. The portion of the donation that covers the cost of the ger, also benefits Snow Leopard Enterprises, an ISLT program that gives the herders an opportunity to increase their household income, and add enormously to the value of their livestock products by producing hand-crafted items using wool from their sheep, camels and cashmere goats.

While the $15,000 donation is at the high end of the giving spectrum, Art For The Animals offers a wide range of giving levels and art premiums. A $10 donation to Project Seahorse is tied to a seahorse beanbag, made by the villagers in Handumon, Philippines, where income increasingly comes from Kanagmaluhan crafts rather than the seahorse trade. There are over 100 other donor gifts ranging from Maasai beaded dog collars ($90 donation to African Wildlife Foundation); to Chilean horsehair flamingos ($150 donation to Wildlife Trust); and tagua nut rainforest carvings ($100 donation to Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute); carved wooden cranes from Mozambique; embroidered linens from Madagascar; juggling balls from the gobi desert, and pine needle butterflies from Michoacan, Mexico.

"The program is pretty simple," says Stewart. "You decide to make a tax-deductable donation based on the size of your wallet, your favorite animal and organization, or the art gift you want to receive. You can make the donation directly, or as a gift donation in the name of a friend. Art For The Animals does the rest. We send a gift card that describes the donation to the conservation organization, along with a unique piece of folk art. 70% of the donation goes to the conservation organizations' programs, and 20% goes to the artists -- giving them income, a way to preserve their culture, and a reason to preserve their environment.

Those who have given through the program wax enthusiastic about the concept and the donor gifts. Gift donations are increasingly popular among aging boomers who have enough stuff and are looking to simplify the holidays and turn excess consumerism into a positive market force to benefit conservation. But during the holidays, it's nice to package that idea with a memento - a piece of art that represents the animal, the region or local culture. For some, it's a tiny sea turtle ornament, and for others its a ger - the program's appeal spans age groups and income levels.

Conservancy organizations currently participating in the Art For The Animals program include:

African Wildlife Foundation
Smithsonian Conservation and Research / Friends of the National Zoo
International Crane Foundation
International Snow Leopard Trust
Lemur Conservation Foundation
Michoacan Reforestation Fund
Project Seahorse
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Wild Camel Protection Foundation
Wildlife Conservation Network

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To view the Art For The Animals donation packages, or request a catalog visit www.artfortheanimals.org or call 1-800-416-1271.

Art For The Animals is a program of AFTA Associates, Incorporated (www.aftaassociates.org) AFTA is a 501c3 non profit organization that works in collaboration with existing wildlife and nature conservancy organizations to preserve wildlife and nature through programs that make the business of saving wildlife, a business from which the people who share the region and resources with the animals can make a living.