The Art of Conservation: Bria Shay Neff

Bria Shay Neff

Bria has always loved animals and art. So, she was shocked to learn there are over 6,000 endangered species. And she was curious about what exactly “endangered” meant and more importantly why were these animals dying. She was determined to find out the answers and above all else save the animals from dying.  

At 8 years old, she decided to combine her passion for painting with her love of animals to showcase species in danger of extinction. Her work took off when she won an art contest sponsored by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare. Bria founded Faces of the Endangered so she could sell her paintings and donate the money to help protect the endangered species.  She is now 12 years old and has already sold 250 paintings of endangered animals to people around the world and has donated more than $36,000 to animal conservation groups. Her paintings have reached nearly every U.S. state and as far as Australia, Germany, and Hong Kong.  

Bria’s artwork depicting the endangered Pangolins
Bria’s artwork depicting the endangered Pangolins

Beneficiaries include the Jane Goodall Institute, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the Wolf Conservation Center in New York state. Bria is a member of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, and has also published two educational coloring books, including one for the Great Plains Zoo near her home. The proceeds from the sale of this book help fund the care of the zoo’s endangered species. She uses her website and Facebook page to highlight the challenges facing endangered animals, inspiring followers in 48 countries. 

Bria spends many hours reading and researching each animal before painting it in an effort to convey the specific conservation challenges it faces. She then spends days, weeks and sometimes even months on a single piece before she shares them with the world.  

“I hope my paintings can give endangered animals a face so they don’t disappear,” says Bria. “And I hope I can inspire kids like me to believe they can do great things.”

Bria’s painting of the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas
Bria’s painting of the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas

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