Many will be visiting family and friends this coming Tomb Sweeping Day and go to honor and pay their respects to their ancestors, but Guo Geng reads out poems and presents flowers to extinct animals or animals that face extinction.
In 1998, Guo Geng started work at the Nanhaizi David’s Deer Park in Beijing. A year later, this animal protector began to build a graveyard for extinct animals within the park. Carved on stones are the animals’ names and dates of their extinction. More than 100 tombstones topple onto each other in a domino effect, to symbolize the natural law that the extinction of one species leads to the extinction of others.
According to United Nations statistics, human activities have sped up the extinction of species by a thousand percent. The current speed of extinctions is similar to that during the dinosaur extinction period. Experts estimate that 37 percent of the animal species on the planet will disappear by 2050.
With each Tomb Sweeping Day the number of visitors steadily increases, with students and animal protectors being the most popular visitors. The graveyard gives the opportunity for people to show the respect to the animals, which have more than likely been killed by human activity.
The names of endangered animals can also be seen here, and surprisingly humans are even engraved on one of the stones, to symbolize the threat from global warming. Geng fears that with the rising numbers of species dying off, the park will not have enough room to accommodate all the extinct animals; at the end of the line of tombstones, there stands a giant hand to signify people taking action and putting a stop to the ever increasing rate of animal extinction. Geng’s efforts are truly heroic, but there is constant pressure from property developers wanting to buy the space, as it is such a hot commodity in Beijing. But, hopefully, with more people acting like Geng, there will be a chance that more animal species will be saved in the future.