Aardman, with Stephen Fry and Alistair McGowan, present ‘The Lonely Dodo’ for Durrell Conservation
eadquartered in Jersey, Channel Islands, Durrell is committed to conserving the diversity and integrity of life on earth. Since its formation over fifty years ago by author and naturalist Gerald Durrell, Durrell has developed a worldwide reputation for its pioneering conservation techniques.
To raise awareness of its vital work Durrell secured input from long-term supporters and friends of the charity Stephen Fry and Alistair McGowan, who share the organisation’s passion for its vision of saving species from extinction.
Durrell collaborated with Academy award-winning animation studio Aardman and brand agency The Frameworks to produce an endearing film around an incredibly powerful concept. It uses the dodo’s extinction, imagined from the perspective of the very last dodo on earth, to communicate the plight of other species around the world that are now in danger of extinction.
We watch The Lonely Dodo travel across the globe in search of another of his kind, and cannot help but be moved by the flightless bird’s fruitless quest to find a mate. Fry’s dry narration is superb, conveying the serious message in an amusing and memorable fashion.
The short film was specifically scripted and produced to engage with potential supporters on an emotional level; telling the story of the lonesome dodo, who has been entertainingly brought to life by McGowan, as he realises he is in fact the very last of his kind.
When developing the concept for the film, TheFrameworks aimed to strike at the heart of what Durrell stands for. Most humans struggle to comprehend what extinction really means; by drawing a parallel between loneliness and extinction the team added emotional punch to the story.
David Alexander, senior designer at TheFrameworks explained: “We were moved by footage of the Last Tasmanian Tiger, lonely and resigned to extinction. Pairing this idea with the dodo, which is central to Durrell’s brand and a symbol of extinction, led us to the concept of The Lonely Dodo.”
Staff at Durrell have dedicated themselves to bringing The Lonely Dodo story to life for over twelve months; it is anticipated to be the most successful fundraising campaign in the charity’s history. The team hopes that 250,000 people will view the short over the next year, and that they will be inspired to support Durrell by signing up to a committed giving programme.
Commenting on his involvement, actor and comedian Stephen Fry said: “We know that currently there are more species either in the process of becoming extinct or in grave danger of doing so, than ever before in the history of man. Stemming this otherwise inevitable flow towards the loss of nature and all that it provides requires engaging the next generation, I wholeheartedly support the work of Durrell as they aim to inspire young hearts and minds to empathise with, and thus care, for the plight of endangered species.”
Along with the dodo, the film also features a range of other Critically Endangered species with which Durrell works including the Hispaniolan Solenodon, Pied Tamarin, Mountain Chicken Frog, Ploughshare Tortoise, Floreana Mockingbird and Pink Pigeon.
Discussing the project Aardman director Matthew Walker said: “It was a truly wonderful experience working with Durrell to create The Lonely Dodo. They gave us the freedom to produce what we hope is a funny and informative film, which is significantly enhanced by the exceptional vocal talents of Stephen Fry and Alistair McGowan. We really hope that it reaches the global audience it deserves!”
Alistair McGowan added: “It’s not often one is asked to become a dodo, especially given that we already know how that story ends! Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust exists to make sure that it doesn’t go the same way for other endangered species, so I became their dodo to help spread that message! Glad to say that I’m still here, and it was actually rather fun, despite the seriousness of the subject!”
Thrilled with the final result Durrell’s CEO Hugh Roberts said: “Gerald Durrell’s books were the gateway to discovery of the natural world for many. He was enormously aware of the effect mankind was having on other species with which we share this planet. He realised that without intervention the loss of species would continue with a devastating effect to life on earth. Gerald sadly died in 1995, but his message continues to be extremely topical and important.