Animal abuse message hits the road

Next time Rosy Zhao hops on London Transit, she might see a familiar image following her around. Zhao’s winning poster design for the non-profit group Friends of Captive Animals (FOCA), a project completed as part of a first-year computer science course, was selected as the group’s upcoming year-long advertising campaign on the interior of 25 city buses, beginning in April.

“That’s cool,” said Zhao, when told her work would potentially be viewed more than a million times. “This was one of my most interactive classes and I was able to take what I learned in class and apply it to the real world.”

The Media, Information & Technoculture student said participating in the poster design gave her an idea of what it would be like dealing with a client, as students were given a set of criteria as to what FOCA sought.

This past term, the Computer Science Department partnered with the Community Service Learning Department @ Western, operated out of the Student Success Centre, to use an assignment to ‘give back’ to the community.

An advocate for animals who endure captivity for the purpose of entertainment, FOCA looked to garner awareness of the treatment of such animals and encourage people to boycott animal-based circuses.

“Many kind people have just not thought this issue through, and have no idea of the harsh training and control methods used against circus animals,” said Vicki Van Linden of FOCA. “The feedback on the design created by Rosy has been enthusiastic. The design quality is very high, and people are surprised to hear this was part of a student project, rather than created by a professional design company.”

The design, printed as 11X17-inch posters, are also being distributed around London, with some heading to Toronto as well. Pamphlets will be created using the same design.
Zhao didn’t know much about FOCA at the start, but after visiting their website, she knew the idea she wanted to convey. “I thought about it a lot in my head and tried to go with the simplest design that would have the biggest impact,” she said of her shot of an elephant’s chained leg.

More than 500 designs were submitted to the contest.

“The design by Rosy used one striking visual image that conveys the message that circus animals suffer, without being overly graphic.” Van Linden said. “This allows the image to be used in public places where children will not be overwhelmed by viewing it. Her design is attractive to look at, yet emotional in its content. It definitely has that reach-out-and-grab-you factor.”

A second design, created by student Meghan Basinski, was also selected, and will be used in future ads.