Images courtesy of Shekhar Jay
Tucked at the end of Phillip Lane, there stood KittyHawk—a post- World War II bar with an edge of eccentricity and an industrial touch to it. Above the bar, there was an event brewing on the night of the 23rd July 2017 – it was named Wild passions for the Orangutan Project.
“Wild Passions” is the brainchild of Lyndl Kean, who holds the current title of Miss Earth Australia. The beauty queen used her status to raise awareness towards the orangutan conservation as it has always been her childhood dream to do so. The not-for-profit organisation was established by the world-renowned orangutan expert Leif Cocks with an ambitious mission to preserve the endangered orangutan species.
A slow-paced event accompanied by the mellifluous melodies of Natalie Conway – the stunning X-Factor star accompanied by a live band eased the event-goers into a sociable mood. KittyHawk also provided some delicious finger food which included crispy fried risotto cheese balls served with aioli sauce on the side as well as mashed peas infused with onions.
When it reached 8pm, heart-warming speeches came from both Lyndl Kean and Leif Cocks addressing their mutual passion for the orangutans. In Lyndl’s speech, she emphasised how monkeys were always her favourite animals, and with her winning Miss Earth Australia, it reignited her passion for conserving an endangered primates. She managed to get in touch with Leith Cocks and was invited to an expedition to Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem in Sumatra to see the orangutan sanctuary first-hand, which was a real eye opener for her.
Leith delivered a heart-warming speech, sprinkled with endearing anecdotes from his orangutan conservation days. One of them included one of an orangutan whom he had a bond with for eight years. He explained to the audience that it was part of his work to make personal friends with these intelligent creatures and then he urged for advocacy of global injustice.
After these insightful speeches, the bidding began—some of the prizes included The Tempest Oil on Canvas by Misha Harrison, High tea for Two at the Langham Sydney—just to name a few.
As each item went under the hammer, each cent will eventually trickle down to build a safer environment for the orangutans. StarCentral magazine would like to congratulate Lyndl Kean for a successful fundraiser.
Quick Interview with Lyndl Kean
Tell us about the Orangutan Project.
So basically, the Orangutan project is almost 20 years old and originally founded by Leith Cocks from Perth. Their mission is to secure habitat for the remaining orangutans for the past 20 years, and tonight we are raising funds to secure home for the orangutans.
Since you won the title of Miss Earth Australia last year, how does the pageant align with values of your cause?
Miss Earth is an environmental based beauty pageant, all the contestants are involved or passionate about animals and environment, and that’s kind of where it aligns with my passions and beliefs. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a passion for the monkeys, and they were always my favourite animals. I always wanted volunteer at the Orangutan sanctuary which was one thing on my bucket list that I always wanted to do. After winning Miss Earth Australia, I knew it was the right time to go and do this because it gave me a bigger audience and bigger reach to go and work with orangutans.
Everyone at T.O.P are conservationists, and they are there for animal rights and to save the rainforest, so all of their beliefs totally align with mine so it just works.
That’s quite amazing! Can you tell us about your experience in the pageant world so far?
I’ve always wanted to be a model when I was young, and I moved from Wollongong to Sydney to pursue my modelling career. After a few years of modelling, I got involved with beauty pageants, and it was something a bit more of a challenge—I had to put myself out there and give myself opportunities to get a bigger voice. I competed for Miss World first, and that is where I put my foot in the door for charity work. I raised money for Variety which is a children’s charity when I entered the Miss World pageant. Then, I decided to compete for Miss Earth Australia, I competed in 2015 and got the first runner-up title. I entered again the following year, and I eventually won the title in 2016. It’s been such an amazing journey so far.