An orphaned javelina cared for by the Española Wildlife Center has been immortalized in an oil painting by Santa Fe artist Cate Moses.
Moses' eight-inch by eight-inch piece, completed yesterday and titled "Baby Javelina Thriving at Wildlife Center," was inspired by a photo of the 5-week-old javelina taken by Wildlife Center wildlife rehabilitator Alissa Mundt and posted on sfreporter.com in March.
Javelina, also known as collared peccary, are distant relatives of both pigs and hippopotami and are native to central and southern New Mexico and other parts of the southwest.
The painting's unveiling happens to coincide with the javelina's recent departure from New Mexico. Although Wildlife Center staff had hoped to release him into the wild eventually, it became apparent that the aggressive youngster would have faced certain rejection by wild javelina herds, Wildlife Center Executive Director Katherine Eagleson tells SFR.
"Javelinas have a very strict social order," Eagleson says. "If it had been a female there might have been a chance, but the males are very aggressive to each other. We would not have been able to introduce him into the wild—he would just have been killed by other javelinas."
The javie went to a Flagstaff wildlife center where it has room to roam, Eagleson says.
"The image just grabbed me when I saw it," Moses says of the painting's inspiration. In particular, the milk formula dripping off the javie's snout caught her attention.
Moses has been painting wildlife for about two years; before that she was an abstract painter. On her blog, Moses writes of her experiences growing up in a household that included rehabilitated red tailed hawks and starlings—Moses' mom rescued injured wildlife.
"I grew up with wildlife," she writes. "A new crop of fledgling birds and kit rabbits were either healed or buried ceremoniously in our backyard cemetery each spring. It was just a matter of time before wildlife became the primary subject of my paintings."