From David Attenborough documentaries to The Lion King, exotic nature reserves to the pets in our own homes, the Animal Kingdom is a place of constant fascination and inspiration for us. Every year we discover more and more species of creature we share our planet with, but at the same time an increasing number of animals are under threat from global warming, pollution, deforestation and other challenges.
A sleek jaguar is the star of our newest Wild Thing, Born With Cattitude, but this beautiful animal and other big cats are increasingly in danger of extinction.
What threats do big cats face in the wild today?
Deforestation; lots of big cats are jungle dwellers, including Indian tigers and South American jaguars, and in many parts of the world their habitat is being destroyed to make way for plantations.
Wildlife trade; many big cats are still hunted and killed by humans for their body parts. Leopards and tigers are hunted for their pelts and their bones are sought after for use in traditional medicine. Some big cats are also sold on as exotic pets to owners who are unable to care for them properly.
Human conflict; farmers will sometimes kill big cats in ‘revenge’ for the cats preying on their livestock. Big cats hunting livestock has become increasingly common as their habitat is destroyed and the human population around them grows, reducing their usual prey.
Who are The Big Cat Sanctuary and what do they do?
Set in the heart of the English countryside, The Big Cat Sanctuary provides a peaceful home for over 50 endangered big cats as well as a specialised centre of research to improve our knowledge of the majestic creatures they house. Experts in the breeding of big cats, the Sanctuary is helping to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals through their work.
The initiatives undertaken at The Big Cat Sanctuary are vital to saving some of the most endangered and iconic species on the planet from extinction. There are various projects which include co-ordinated breeding, contributions to frontline conservation strategies and the welfare of the sanctuary’s resident cats, who are not only ambassadors of their wild cousins, but also play an active role in securing a future for all wildlife and our natural world.
Where do we come in?
The Big Cat Sanctuary will be receiving 5% of profits from sales of Wild Things own big cat, the new jaguar design Born With Cattitude. Born With Cattitude was inspired by The Big Cat Sanctuary’s own sassy jaguar, Maya, who recently stole hearts in the BBC documentary series Big Cats About the House.
*The Big Cat Sanctuary is trademarked by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation Limited. Registered Charity no. 1104420.
What fragrant flower is favoured by a Greek goddess, French royalty and the gin-makers of the world? The same one which lies at the heart of our nostalgic new scent, Midnight Iris!
Find out more about the flower’s long history, from Ancient Egypt to Ashleigh & Burwood.
A Colourful Name
The name iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow. With over 250 species of iris out there, it appears in nearly every colour of the rainbow. The flower also shares its name with the ancient Greek goddess Iris, a messenger goddess and the personification of rainbows. The ancient Greeks would plant purple iris flowers over the graves of women, believing that this would summon the Goddess to lead their spirits to the heavens.
As well as its link to the Greek gods, the flower also has royal connections. Iris is believed to be the inspiration behind the fleur-de-lis, a common symbol in heraldry, especially popular with the French monarchy. Although ‘lis’ actually translates to ‘lily’, the symbol is much closer in shape to an iris’ distinctive petals.
Getting to The Root of Things
Iris has a long history as an ingredient in fragrance, with its use dating all the way back to the ancient cultures of Egypt and India. Essential oil for fragrances can be gathered from two different parts of the plant. Iris absolute is extracted from the petals of the flower, but fragrance can also be produced from the root, known as orris root. To gather the fragrance the root must be dried for several years, ground to a powder, then dissolved in water and distilled. Very little essential oil can be extracted from the roots, so it is an exceptionally prized ingredient. Orris root is also a popular ingredient in pot pourri as its high starch content helps it preserve its own fragrance as well as the fragrance of other materials it comes into contact with.
…And One Last Gin-teresting Fact
It’s not just perfumery that uses irises to great effect. Orris root is also a common ingredient in the flavouring of gin!