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Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ballerinas for the Environment

Ballerinas for the Environment, a charitable organization founded by UC Davis alumna Cinthia Conlon and graduating fourth-year David Werner, is hosting a Gala event featuring the Davis Ballet Company, DJ Darkness and DJ MaTaterTots at Odd Fellows Hall on Apr. 11 as a fundraiser for their stray-animal rehabilitation project in Ecuador.

The overpopulation of stray animals in Ecuador has caused various interrelated environmental problems, such as diminished ecosystem health and water contamination, which leads to the spread of diseases to the human population.

As an Ecuadorian citizen, Conlon has seen the overabundance of stray animals and their harsh living conditions, and understands the dire need for animal population control.

“There is a very large stray animal population in Ecuador. These animals pose a higher threat to human health as a result of their overpopulation, and are always at risk for being abused,” Conlon said. “Animal care is not a priority in a third-world nation like Ecuador, so spaying and neutering are not common practice.”

Werner, a fourth-year environmental policy, analysis and planning major, discussed how their organization will help mitigate these environmental issues.

“By offering free spays and neuters to the community we have a better chance of effective population control, and in turn disease control,” Werner said.

Last year, Ballerinas for the Environment raised funds for International Veterinary Outreach, a nonprofit organization run by UC Davis Veterinary School students that provides free veterinary care to underprivileged communities. This year’s goal is to get directly involved with underprivileged communities in Ecuador.

Conlon, who was a ballerina before starting college and studied environmental science and management at UC Davis, believes it is beneficial to merge the worlds of art and science.

“They are two very different worlds, and it is great when they can mesh together in a way that makes sense,” Conlon said.

Jacqueline De La Rocha, a UC Davis alumna, recently joined Ballerinas for the Environment and is enthusiastic about applying what she has learned in her major to a real-world issue.

“Within their mission is the idea that everything is connected in some way. You cannot just help the stray animal population without having an effect on the ecosystem or humans,” De La Rocha said. “As an environmental policy, analysis and planning major, this was the same idea used behind policy-making. I find it great that I am seeing this concept that was emphasized in my classes in action and also that I am playing my small part in the bigger system.”

The gala will be held at Odd Fellows Hall, located at 415 Second St., on April 11, and will feature a silent auction, a performance by The Davis Ballet Company (directed by Galen Groff, Briana Hamamoto and Yuka Matsuyama) and a DJ’ed reception featuring DJ Darkness and DJ MaTaterTots, which runs until 2 a.m. Student admission tickets are $30, and regular admission tickets are $40, the cost of a spay or neuter. One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward funding the stray animal rehabilitation project in Ecuador.

For further information about Ballerinas for the Environment and to purchase gala tickets, check out their webpage at ballerinasfortheenvironment.tumblr.com.

CRISTINA FRIES can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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