The Zoo of Extinct Animals is an AR experience allowing viewers to interact with extinct wildlife

Developed by Sebastian Koseda, the experience is a stark reminder of the effects of human activity – a project created in collaboration with Hannah Rose Stewart, James Rogers and Gabriel Gabriel Garble.

5 February 2021

The Zoo of Extinct Animals is an AR experience developed by Sebastian Koseda, a London-based graphic and visual landscape designer who’s spent the last month on a residency with Snapchat. Using its Lens Studio software to develop augmented scenes, the result is a glimpse into the species we’ve lost over time due to human activity.

Allowing its audience to observe and interact with extinct wildlife, the debut animal in the series is the Baiji river dolphin – the first dolphin to be declared extinct in 2006 due to fishing and pollution. There are five animals available to view through this experience, all of which have been declared extinct in the last 20 years from causes such as habitat loss, pollution and global warming.

“By mixing reality we have the opportunity to bring urgent matters into the spotlight,” Sebastian tells It’s Nice That. “What would normally seem like a distance problem starts to feel very real when we can see what we’ve lost and how human impact has played a role in it.” Highlighting the rate of extinction, the experience showcases a state of emergency and invites the viewer to take action. “99% of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities such as habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, poaching and global warming,” he continues. “It is a tragedy in itself that this is the only way we can see these animals.”

Sebastian Koseda: The Zoo of Extinct Animals (Copyright © Sebastian Koseda, 2021)

Sebastian mixed real-life scenes with the pairing of original environments of the extinct animals, “for the environments to be unfamiliar but accessible,” he says. He worked with Hannah Rose Stewart to modify the topography of the models to match the animals using reference materials. They then worked on the textures to match the skin and colours, before developing the rigging and animation with Gabriel Gabriel Garble in Cinema 4D. Sebastian also collaborated with James Rogers on the soundscape to create an “ethereal but uneasy atmosphere” throughout, he says. “I then pulled these elements into Lens Studio where I applied post-effects such as caustics into the environment design, I also included some elements which signify how the animal originally because extinct, i.e. plastic bags and bottles.”

With an aim to inform the viewers and to raise awareness, Sebastian’s work with The Zoo of Extinct Animals was initially devised as a response to lockdown: “We saw unusual animal sightings and plants reclaiming their habitat, supposedly due to humans being in lockdown, but should this be raising spirits or raising questions?”

He continues to note that without action, 50% of animals will face extinction by the end of the century. “The biggest threat? Humans,” he declares. “By making the invisible visible, we can bring seemingly distant problems to the forefront of peoples’ minds. Here, we use technological progress to expose ecological decay.”

To explore The Zoo of Extinct Animals, click here to open Snapchat on your phone – it will unlock the lens for you to use.

GallerySebastian Koseda: The Zoo of Extinct Animals (Copyright © Sebastian Koseda, 2021)

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Sebastian Koseda: The Zoo of Extinct Animals (Copyright © Sebastian Koseda, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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