More than 1,600 Hand-Drawn Animals Roam the Earth in Anton Thomas’s ‘Wild World’ Map

All images © Anton Thomas, shared with permission

Taking three years from start to finish, Anton Thomas’s meticulously detailed map takes us on a zoological journey around the globe. “I’ve imagined ‘Wild World’ since childhood,” he says. “I remember watching nature documentaries, awed by the evocation of nature—inspired to care.” Starting in July 2020 and completed in July of this year, Thomas rendered a total of 1,642 wild animals in “Wild World,” all spread across Earth’s seven continents and five oceans.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Thomas grew up in an area surrounded by natural beauty and was inspired to draw maps when he was young. In 2011, he took a life-changing trip to North America, starting in California, then traversing numerous states and eventually heading north to visit different regions of Canada, where he landed in front of an unlikely canvas.

“In late 2012, I was living in Montréal. I was working as a cook—rather unhappily at this point—and was preparing to return to New Zealand when my housemate suggested I draw on our fridge,” Thomas tells Colossal. “It was an old fridge covered in stains, so he painted it with white house paint, and I set to work drawing a pictorial map of all of North America. I ended up spending six weeks in front of the fridge. The experience was deeply moving to me, and I knew I had to go deeper.”

As his early interest in cartography resurfaced, Thomas began to draw a map of North America, which was so detailed that it took five years to complete. After moving to Melbourne, where he is currently based, he began planning a global edition, and “Wild World” was born. “I didn’t have a plan; I just wanted a physical world map with some animals,” the artist says. “It wasn’t until I’d been drawing for six months that I began to understand how complex it was.”


More than 1,600 Hand-Drawn Animals Roam the Earth in Anton Thomas’s ‘Wild World’ Map

Thomas estimates that nearly a third of the time and labor that went into creating the map was dedicated to researching animal habitats and physical geography so that he could be as accurate as possible. “I do gravitate towards beautiful, unique, and iconic animals,” he says. “But as the map got underway, I settled on three criteria that came to shape its philosophy. All animals are wild, native, and extant—not extinct.” He continues:

There’s so much bad news about the state of the planet due to our actions: biodiversity loss, climate change, ecological collapse, and I worry that people are growing up without any hope for the future. And hope is a key ingredient to inspiring change. So “Wild World” was drawn as a reminder that the planet remains wild, even deep into the 21st century.

Every element is hand-drawn in colored pencil and pen, from the terrain to the place names to the wide variety of species. Using the Natural Earth projection as a template, the map focuses on creatures native to specific regions rather than political boundaries or cities, emphasizing the planet’s wilderness. “‘Wild World’ is a place that still exists; a world that can still be cared for, cherished, and protected,” Thomas says. “It may seem an idealistic portrayal of Earth, but it shows nothing that isn’t there. Every species, every habitat, is still with us. I want this map to inspire hope, to show just how wild the world is still is, how much there is left to preserve.”

Prints of “Wild World” are available to order on Thomas’s website. You can also follow him on Instagram for updates and insights into his process.


More than 1,600 Hand-Drawn Animals Roam the Earth in Anton Thomas’s ‘Wild World’ Map  More than 1,600 Hand-Drawn Animals Roam the Earth in Anton Thomas’s ‘Wild World’ Map

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