The giant galliwasp? The thylacine? The golden toad? The poignant posters of 'Unknown Tourism' pay homage to the wildlife we're in danger of forgetting.
The golden age of travel was an era of getting dressed up to fly and eating things like consommé and crepes served on porcelain while in the air. It was glamorous and special. It was also a time of the travel poster; the beautiful enticements for adventure luring tourists to faraway lands.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and travel is decidedly less elegant, but Expedia UK is evoking the past with a set of fictional travel posters that are as iconic as they are ironic. The series of six posters and accompanying text, Unknown Tourism: Commemorating The Wildlife We've Lost, puts a twist on the classic by paying homage not to the exotic animals one might see when traveling afar, but the wonderful animals that we can actually no longer see – the extinct species that we are in danger of forgetting.
Costa Rica: The Golden Toad
Despite its name, the Golden Toad was also observed in orange, white, yellow, red and green colouring, as well as its natural gold. It was distributed across a small range, no more than 5 miles, in the high altitude of the mountains in Costa Rica. It died out in 1989 due to increased temperatures and decreased rainfalls causing the pools of water they bred in to dry up.
Tasmania: The Thylacine
The Thylacine will be well known to antipodeans, as it has long been the symbol of the island of Tasmania, featuring on their coat of arms, number plate, and as the official mascot of the cricket team. Able to extend their jaw to 80 degrees, the ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ was an apex predator of the Australasian continent until it was hunted to extinction in 1936.
Jamaica: The Giant Galliwasp
The coldblooded Giant Galliwasp would sun itself in the tropical heat of Jamaica, becoming one of the most iconic animals on the island due to its large size for a reptile – it grew to over two feet in total length. When settlers arrived, bringing dogs, cats and mongooses, they upset the delicate balance of the island’s ecosystem, causing the death of the species.
Alaska: Steller's Sea Cow
Slow, steady, and constantly grazing, the colossal Steller’s Sea Cows really were the bovine of the waves. Growing to a maximum length of 30 feet, and weighing 10 tons, at the time they were the largest water mammals besides whales. Declared extinct in 1768, their much smaller relatives the Manatees can still be found in some parts of the North American continent.
New Zealand: The Moa
New Zealand has always been home to animals that are bigger than average – the island’s seclusion from the rest of the world meant that they developed what’s called ‘Island Gigantism’ – and the Moa was certainly no exception. The bird could grow to a massive 12 feet and 500 pounds, much larger than its closest living relatives, the Ostrich and Emu.
Mauritius: The Dodo
A distant cousin of the common pigeon, the Dodo evolved on Mauritius with a bountiful supply of food and no natural predators, which led to its friendly disposition and large proportions. Perhaps the most famous of all extinct animals, the Dodo has become an iconic example of how human interaction can cause a species’ demise.