The Cochrane Ecological Institute (CEI) recently received a donation from a world-renowned artist.
Canadian wildlife painter Robert Bateman contributed an original piece to the CEI, which the wildlife institute plans to auction off.
“He painted a picture just for us,” said Clio Smeeton, CEI president.
“It is just brilliant of him.”
The eight-by-eight inch oil painting of the head of a grizzly bear, with a reserve price of $4,500, will be exhibited at the facility’s upcoming Small Show fundraiser, which will take place Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Institute, located northwest of Cochrane.
Smeeton said she wasn’t surprised by Bateman’s generosity and willingness to help the CEI’s cause, because of their longtime friendship.
“Long, long ago, when Bob was still working…he used to drive across Canada and stop here (at the CEI),” she said.
“He would draw the animals. A lot of the animals in his early work come from here.”
The auction will also include original art from a variety of local, national and international artists.
The pieces are relatively small and include watercolours, pastels, oils and glasswork.
“They are all original works,” said Smeeton.
“The art and the artists are wonderful. Anything (people) buy will be going to a worthwhile cause.”
The event will also feature live music and, if the weather cooperates, tours of the facility where people can expect to see moose, caribou and bison.
Smeeton said volunteers at the Institute, which rescues and reintroduces orphaned and injured animals into the wild and is the only breeding facility for swift foxes in the country, is hoping for a big turnout to help raise money.
The money will be set aside for special projects, such as monitoring lynx after they are released and building specialized habitats for animals.
According to Smeeton, the CEI, which was founded in 1972 and is completely self-funded, has difficulty raising operating capital.
Although the facility now contains a kennel business to help with everyday costs, there is generally little money left for bigger projects.
“It’s not cheap,” said Smeeton.
“We are still going, entirely from the kindness of individuals. So what we want to do with the money from the Small Show is put it into projects kept separate from day-to-day costs.”