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Meet Crystal Alba: Vet Tech, Photographic Artist, Animal Advocate, Virtual Artist-In-Residence

While the ENDANGERED Art4Apes Fine Art & Photography Contest has reached its deadline, we continue to showcase those artists and photographers who are committed to and focused on using their talent to support wildlife and the environment. Crystal Alba is a multitasker par excellence!  The Virtual Artist in Residence for October, 2020 is a Vet tech, animal advocate and photographic artist based in Chattanooga, TN.  The Rickie Report shares her poignant photographs and her story. The Contest Results will be published soon, as the ENDANGERED ONLINE exhibition opens November 1st!  We’ll share the details!














October, 2020   Virtual   Artist   In   Residence






Crystal Alba tells The Rickie Report, “My mission is to see each animal as an individual and capture them in a way that makes people connect with them.”  As we looked at her photos, they seem like a family album: intimate, personal, and telling a story through the eyes of her subjects. We present a taste of Crystal’s work. To see more visit






“Chimpanzee Portrait” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.



Crystal says, “Capturing the unique faces and personalities of these complex individuals has become very important to me. I like to photograph them as I would take human portraits. I think it helps people see how similar we are to our distant cousins. As an endangered species, chimpanzees need our help. Showing their “human” side is important to connect with people who might otherwise have no interest. I’ve met almost 100 chimpanzees and no two have been the same. They can be incredibly kind, curious, intelligent, friendly and generous. My portraits are an attempt to share that with the world.”





Photograph of the artist. © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.



Crystal’s goal is to show the world how she sees chimpanzees: as social, intelligent, emotional, and quirky individuals. “Even if one person feels compelled to help one chimpanzee because they saw something in a portrait that moved them, I feel that I have succeeded in my mission as a photographer.”





“Peacemaker and Instigator” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.





“Without connection, people aren’t moved to take action. Chimpanzees, who can live 50+ years in captivity, need more advocates speaking out for them, donating to them, and helping them however possible. This is why I began focusing on close-up intimate portraits of them.”






“Grooming” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.




“Grooming is important among chimpanzee social groups as it helps to build and strengthen bonds, diffuse tense situations, and it’s important for hygiene. Chimpanzee grooming sessions are often accompanied by noises like raspberries and lip smacking. If a chimpanzee has a new wound, no matter how minor, it is usually the focus of the grooming.”





“Rest” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.




“Chimpanzees nap a lot. One of my favorite things was quietly photographing them as they drifted off to sleep. I don’t think people really get to see sleeping chimpanzees when visiting zoos or watching them on TV. It’s a special moment, when their guard is totally down. Chimpanzees often sleep with their friends, sometimes with arms thrown over each other, or with this subject, in a quiet spot by herself.”


“Portrait of an Alpha Female” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.



“This is an older chimpanzee, the highest ranking female in her group. A force to be reckoned with, she is larger than many of the males. She uses many methods to sway others to take her side.”



“Mischievous” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.





“This young chimpanzee is the smallest female in her group. She uses her size to her advantage and gets the higher ranking chimpanzees to back her up. For a while, she was allowed to eat with the highest-ranking females in her group. She enjoys starting things with the other younger ones, sometimes running up and hitting or pestering them because she knows she’ll get away with it. She also forms close friendships. Once, when one of her closest friends refused to leave the outdoor area overnight, she stayed outside with her and kept her company until the next morning.”




“Food Peering” © 2020 Crystal Alba. All Rights Reserved.




“Food peering is one of my favorite chimpanzee behaviors. If a chimpanzee is eating something special or new or high value, others will gather round and put their faces right up in the face of the one who is eating. They are either inspecting the food or begging to share depending on the situation.”




See more of Crystal’s work at:










Proceeds benefit the Center for Great Apes





For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher   561-537-0291

17019 SW Sapri Way   Port St. Lucie, FL 34986




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