A message from Klaus Wowereit, current mayor of Berlin, for the exhibition "Zoogestalten" ("Zoo personalities")

"The Animals are Looking at You” (Tiere sehen dich an) is the title of a famous book, which has already become a kind of dictum. It suggests that animals are perfectly capable of observing humans, even if it’s only normally possible the other way round. The way in which the animals look at us should serve as a reminder that all living things were created together. It should also remind us that animals demand the same respect and care that we as humans claim for ourselves

This is, of course, nothing new to a genuine Berliner. Genuine Berliners wander regularly around the Zoo or the Tierpark and are on friendly terms with the inhabitants there. You can bump into old acquaintances there, including some of the animal “celebrities” that the whole city follows with interest.

Alexander von Reiswitz has managed to get close to both some well-known and less well-known zoo personalities. There’s Mzima, the rhino, who alternates between shaking its head gracefully and looking melancholy, Alfonso, the cheeky penguin, Sangha, the clever gorilla, Bao-Bao, the timid panda, Tanja, the wise elephant dame or Klapperkopp, the shrewd marabou. Alexander von Reiswitz has created portraits of all these fascinating personalities, who all pose in a relaxed way while retaining that air of mystery. That’s the real sign of a star.

Passionate zoo visitors aren’t the only ones who will be able to take an intimate look at their favourite animals in this exhibition. City people who are out of touch with nature can also look the animals in the eye and thus feel the responsibility that we all carry for creation.

I wish the “Zoo Personalities” exhibition, which has been organised jointly by the City West cultural office and the Berlin Zoological Gardens, every success.

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