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Tallon Nightwalker Tallon, shown above with a bobcat, wants to inspire people to help protect animals. (Courtesy Tallon Nightwalker)

A 16-Year-Old’s Animal Kingdom

A Colorado teen wants to photograph himself with every animal on Earth

By Jennifer Marino Walters | December 7 , 2012
<p>Tallon began his project when he was 5 years old. (Courtesy Tallon Nightwalker)</p>

Tallon began his project when he was 5 years old. (Courtesy Tallon Nightwalker)

Tallon Nightwalker is on a mission. The 16-year-old animal lover from Fort Collins, Colorado, wants to be photographed with every species of mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian on Earth. So far, he’s on the right track: Tallon has photos with 840 species and counting.

The project started when Tallon was 5 and began volunteering at the wildlife rehabilitation center where his dad works. His father realized he didn’t have photos of the many animals he worked with, so he snapped a photo of Tallon with a bull snake. The project took off from there.

Now Tallon has photos with a camel, a spider monkey, a cockatoo, a black bear, and all sorts of other creatures. He has held boa constrictors, kissed a wolf, and crouched down in front of a pool of crocodiles. He has photos with extremely rare animals, including an okapi and a Wyoming toad, which is nearly extinct in the wild. In his favorite photo, a bobcat sits on his shoulders.

PROTECTING ANIMALS

Tallon’s photo project is meant to inspire people to help protect animals, some of which could disappear in his lifetime.

“I hope to help spread the idea of conservation for wildlife and to promote the importance of biodiversity,” Tallon says. “Animals are individuals. They’re just as important as me or you.”

Tallon shares his photos on his Facebook page, with a description of each animal. He also notes whether the creature is endangered.

Tallon and his dad follow certain rules when taking the photos. No barrier can exist between Tallon and the animal. Tallon can be holding the animal or standing next to someone who is holding it, or it can be behind or in front of Tallon. The animal must also be alive.

Most of Tallon’s photos have been taken at zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries in Colorado, where staff members can make sure he is safe. Many were taken at the wildlife rehabilitation center where he still volunteers. Some, such as a photo with a moose, were snapped in the wild, where Tallon keeps a safe distance from the animals. He and his dad have traveled out of Colorado for photos twice, once to California and once to South Dakota.

Tallon intends to one day open his own wildlife rehabilitation center. He also plans to continue his photo project for a long time, with the hopes of saving some of the animals he meets.

“I don’t know how long it will take to get photos of all [the species], but I plan to do it until I get old,” Tallon says. “Every animal is unique. Every animal deserves to be protected.”

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