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Internationally renowned artist ROA paints massive mural in Isla de Cabras inspired by the Caribbean manatee to create awareness of this local endangered species

The mural is the latest in a series completed by Belgian artist ROA in collaboration with charitable and environmental organizations.

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico (April 14, 2021) — Non-profit organization Coqui Charities with Elegel Group, the Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center and the Municipality of Toa Baja celebrated today the unveiling of ROA’s latest mural, which features the Caribbean manatee—Puerto Rico’s national mammal and an endangered species—as the newest protagonist of his animal-inspired body of work.

The 160’ x 25’ mural on the World War II concrete gun battery Fort Amezquita, on the edge of Isla de Cabras, is ROA’s largest to date in Puerto Rico and marks the 15th piece done by the artist here. Other murals painted across the Island with the help of NGOs and experts in wildlife conservation include the crested toad in Guánica and the Puerto Rican parrot in Utuado (both produced in collaboration with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources); the tiger shark in Río Grande and the lionfish in Naguabo (both done in collaboration with Conservación ConCiencia and, in the lionfish case, to alert of its danger as an invasive species).

The manatee mural was painted with insight provided by experts from the Manatee Conservation Center, the financial support of Coqui Charities and the assistance of the Municipality of Toa Baja, which holds jurisdiction over Isla de Cabras.

“The murals—in addition to revitalizing community spaces and celebrating the diverse local fauna—are part of our #PRLOVE road trip,” said Stefan Langan, director of Elegel Group and co-founder of the initiative. The idea behind it is two-fold: invite people to visit the murals so they can learn about the threatened species and how to protect them and, simultaneously, promote tourism.

“We’re thrilled to have hosted this great artist at the Center and to have worked with him to discuss the manatees and the survival challenges that exist for them in the wild,” stated doctor Antonio Mignucci, director of the Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center and professor of marine sciences at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

Bruce Deichl, president of the non-profit organization, added: “Coqui Charities has been supporting important public art efforts since our inception. We believe this project will bring attention to the challenges facing the survival of our manatee and create meaningful excursions for locals and tourists alike.”

“Our city is committed to preserving the environment and using art as a means to reclaim public spaces and bring the community together with positive messages. This mural does exactly that. Our residents and visitors will enjoy ROA’s work, our beautiful beaches and how to protect wildlife on our shores,” said Mayor Bernardo “Betito” Márquez.

From Ghent (Belgium), ROA has made Puerto Rico a frequent stop. His art is inspired by animals from the places he visits and is characterized by his iconic style and black and grey tone palette.

About Coqui Charities:

Coqui Charities is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the social, economic and cultural welfare of Puerto Rico. It complies with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and Section 1101.01 of the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code. More about it here: https://coquicharities.org/.

About the Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center:

The Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center is a local charity with the purpose of rescuing and rehabilitating endangered marine wildlife like the manatees. A partnership between the Inter American University and the Red Caribeña de Varamientos, it complies with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and Section 1101.01 of the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code. Additional information on the Center and how to donate to support their work at www.manatipr.org