Empire State Building Lit Up With Images Of Endangered Animals For 'Projecting Change' #RacingExtinction [Video]

On Saturday night, New Yorkers enjoyed a rare treat as a dynamic art exhibit was projected onto one of the city's landmarks: the Empire State Building. The event, called "Projecting Change," was created by the filmmakers behind the upcoming Discovery Channel documentary Racing Extinction. It featured still and moving images of endangered animals.

As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, the event was backed by the Oceanic Preservation Society to bring attention to the "alarming" rates of species extinction. Due to New York City's strict laws against projections on buildings, it took three years to get project approval.

The intervention of filmmaker Norman Lear, who used his connections to Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, was critical to getting the event green-lit. The team then had only four weeks to put it together.

"Projecting Change" was live-streamed on the Racing Extinction website. Those who missed the livestream can enjoy the experience by watching the YouTube video below, starting at about 32:40.

The Oceanic Preservation Society and Discovery encouraged New Yorkers to tweet out pictures of the images as they enjoyed them live. What resulted was a collection of stunning images spread through social media.

Deadline reported Thursday that Racing Extinction debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Footage from the "Projecting Change: Empire State Building" event may form part of an upcoming documentary. Racing Extinction is directed by Louie Psihoyos, who also directed the Oscar-winning film The Cove. Discovery will release the film on December 2.

On Saturday night, Psihoyos spoke passionately about the rapid loss of species, according to NBC New York.

"We're set to lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century."
Psihoyos also spoke about the death of Cecil the Lion, which sparked outrage only days before the Empire State Building event.
"There's only 3,500 wild male lions out there. The gun lobby keeps them from being on the list but they are endangered.

"Cecil -- I mean what a -- at least there are other lions left. I've photographed some species where it's the last male of a species, like the Rabbs' Fringe-limbed tree frog."

Joe Walston, vice president for field conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society, wrote in the New York Daily News Friday that the event should encourage governments to act to protect endangered species. He emphasized that governments can save some species that might otherwise be lost. Walston said it's been done before, such as when the American bison were brought back from near-extinction at the turn of the 20th century.

[Photo by Grant Lamos IV / Getty Images]