On September 20 2021, Sonny Behan together with Discovery, unveiled a large-scale bronze tiger statue at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to celebrate tigers and raise awareness for endangered species ahead of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The sculpture, placed at the entrance of the UN Plaza next to the renowned ‘Non-Violence’ sculpture, also draws attention to the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world for the benefit of people and nature.

This public artwork was created in collaboration with Discovery’s Project C.A.T. campaign, launched in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which supports nearly six million acres of tiger habitat across India, Bhutan and Russia. The ambitious project took over a year to bring to life, from conceptualisation to installation and was publicly unveiled at the iconic bell ringing ceremony to close the markets at the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square.

“There are many threats to species in the wild, which includes habitat loss due to land degradation and transformation,” said Barbara Hendrie, Director of the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for North America. “We need to ensure the restoration of our ecosystems that have been damaged or destroyed, and to conserve those critical ecosystems that are still intact for the sake of animals, people and planet.”

“Wild tiger populations faced decades of decline until 2016,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for wildlife conservation at WWF. “We’ve seen populations stabilize, and even increase, in several countries since then. There is hope for the species’ future, but so much more needs to be done to achieve a doubling of the global population, particularly in Southeast Asia where snaring and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade continue to keep numbers alarmingly low.”

“Representing the resilience of nature and humanity, ‘Abhaya’ (fearlessness) is a celebration of the color these animals bring to our world. In such challenging times, we can all draw inspiration from the tiger, a universal symbol of courage and strength. After a century of decline, wild tiger numbers are starting to increase. Yet, it’s important to remember that threats to tigers are ever present.

This is why the tiger is depicted in motion, jumping forward into the future; a future that relies so heavily on the actions we take today. I’m honored to bring one of these iconic big cats to the United Nations and hope that it will serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting and conserving, not only tigers, but all wildlife across the globe.”

– Sonny Behan.