An Italian photographer specialises in capturing lab animals during their first experiences out of their cages and her photographs are bringing us to tears.
Rachele Totaro is an Italian amateur photographer who every year volunteers her artistic skills in service of local animal charity La Collina dei Conigli.
PETA estimates that more than 100 million animals die in laboratories all over the world every year. That’s five times the human population of Australia.
While many animals die during trials, many others actually survive the experiments the labs put them through, and still more are never actually used but kept as a surplus for safety or control reasons. These specimens that could be easily saved are usually killed off as well when the experiments are over.
Italian law allows charities and other organizations to pick up these surviving animals and La Collina dei Conigli focuses particularly on the recovery of rabbits, mice and rats.
Totaro had the amazing idea of capturing the critters’ first moments of freedom and the results are incredibly endearing. In past years she has staged adorable photo shoots in which she recreated scenes from popular children’s stories like Alice In Wonderland and The Little Prince.
She makes a calendar with the snaps and the proceeds of the sales goes to the animal charity.
This year, she decided to go for a more cinema-verité approach, and immortalised the first moments out of captivity with no props or costumes. Just the sun, the camera, their whiskers and their emotions.
Totaro says of her project, “So no special effects, but something better: the surprise when these little critters feel the sun on their fur for the first time, their curiosity for a brand new world to discover, how deeply they enjoy their first moments of freedom, led and protected by volunteers, who are always by their side on the long path to recovery…
“That very hot day in August was their first time outside the cages, and I feel grateful to have witnessed such a great moment of rebirth!”