Three activists arrested after woolly mammoth exhibit painted pink at Royal BC Museum

Three activists arrested after woolly mammoth exhibit painted pink at Royal BC Museum

Three people were arrested after they allegedly smeared bright pink paint on the popular woolly mammoth exhibit at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum Wednesday, with the activists using the stunt to call for a citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis.

In a video posted to social media by the environmental activism group On2Ottawa, a woman identified as Laura Sullivan can be seen sitting in front of the woolly mammoth replica with an open jar of paint beside her.

Her hand — and the mammoth’s tusks — were stained bright pink.

A spokesperson for RBCM confirmed to CHEK News that the exhibit had been “defaced” at around 11 a.m. Wednesday, and staff apprehended those responsible before calling police.

Victoria police later confirmed they were called to the museum at 11:15 a.m., arriving to find the painted tusks in what they’re calling an act of vandalism.

Three people were arrested and transported to holding cells, police said in a news release.

The paint was water-soluble and was able to be cleaned up quickly, the museum said, as were a few drops of pink that landed on the exhibit’s diorama. The mammoth replica’s fur was not affected and there was no permanent damage or financial loss incurred, RBCM said.

The exhibit has reopened to the public.

Call for ‘people’s assembly’ on climate emergency

On2Ottawa says the campaign is meant to “mobilize Canadians to go to Ottawa to press government to form a Citizens’ Assembly to kick-start action on the #ClimateCrisis.”

The same woman seen in front of the exhibit in the video posted to Twitter was also recorded in an earlier video discussing On2Ottawa’s goals.

She said the campaign aims to unite all of Canada’s environmental movements for a march on Ottawa resulting in acts of civil disobedience “to demand a people’s assembly to tackle the climate and ecological crisis over the next one to two years.”

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued several reports that paint a bleak picture of the planet’s future if nations do not take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC warns that the world is on track to exceed the 1.5C threshold of global warming by the end of this century, which will result in widespread and irreversible damage to the planet, leading to more climate disasters like frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, flooding, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The panel has also warned that the current rate of emission reductions isn’t sufficient to limit global warming to that threshold and that immediate action is needed to prevent such disasters.

The activists responsible for the RBCM exhibit vandalism say they have lost trust in current politicians to make meaningful decisions on the climate crisis.

“Right now, our current government is funnelling money into the resource extraction and fossil fuel industry, which is currently killing so many people worldwide and in this country and will continue to do so exponentially,” said Laura in the video.

“We need everyday citizens who are randomly selected to be demographically representative of this country to be educated on what’s actually going on and make adequate legally binding policy decisions, to save us from this disaster.”

Mammoth stunt just one of many acts in name of climate crisis

The woolly mammoth stunt is one of several that have taken place globally in recent months by activists hoping to direct attention to the climate emergency any way they can, though many have debated their efficacy in generating interest and action.

In November 2022, climate activists calling for an end to the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline Project in B.C. splashed maple syrup on an Emily Carr painting and glued themselves to a wall at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

A month earlier, protestors tossed soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s world-famous “Sunflowers” painting in London and mashed potatoes at Claude Monet’s “Les Meules” in Germany in two separate incidents, though there were no permanent damages in either case.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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