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Wildlife Photographer Thomas Mangelsen Says 'Spirit of Conservation' Drives Him

Internationally renowned wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen gave a retrospective of his work and life experiences Thursday night as part of a virtual lecture presented by the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Wildlife Prairie Park.

Mangelsen shared a slideshow of his favorite photographs and told their stories from behind the lens including some photos from time spent with friend and fellow conservationist Jane Goodall.

Hailing from Nebraska, Mangelsen’s career spans nearly five decades. Along the way he has captured over four million images from around the world and numerous awards, including recognition in 2019 from the National Parks Conservation Association for enhancing public understanding of national parks.

“I've been lucky to travel, so I try to bring those images home to maybe people that aren't able to travel as much. And I think the stories behind them, some of them have a conservation message and people will go away with maybe a new appreciation, talk about what we might do to preserve it,” said Mangelsen.

He said his goal has always been to help people develop an emotional connection to wildlife and wild places through his art and to inspire a spirit of conservation.

“Today more than ever in my lifetime we are losing more wildness and more public lands than we ever have before. It’s important that those of us who have a bit of a voice speak up. 

“It's like this museum show in Peoria, it's really important to me that people go and see my images and appreciate what's out there and what we have to lose,” he said.

Mangelsen was joined by event moderators Roberta English and Adrienne Bauer of Wildlife Prairie Park and Peoria Riverfront Museum’s Zac Zetterberg.

A collection of Mangelsen’s work is on view through Sept. 7 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

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