Andrew and Patrick Antone | Credit: Andrew Antone / @AndrewAntone on Instagram

Andrew Antone and his husband always knew they wanted to go on an African safari for their honeymoon. And when they finally got the chance last March, after COVID put the kibosh on earlier plans, Antone was sure he would take a lot of pictures. He bought some new equipment and rented an extra-long lens so he’d be ready for anything. 

What Antone, a musician, designer, and the creative director of a Santa Barbara software company, didn’t realize at the time was that the stunning images he’d capture of wildlife through the grasslands and waterways of Kenya, Botswana, and Tanzania would turn into a 456-page coffee table book and exhibition at the Santa Barbara Zoo. “I had absolutely no plans to do anything like this,” he said recently. “But when we started looking at the images, I really began seeing something that needed to be shared.”

AFRICA’s arresting stills of lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and other creatures, many of them highly endangered, were born out of love, Antone explained. “Love for animals, love for travel, love for life.” But their real value, we went on, is the consciousness he hopes they generate around preservation as the continent’s fragile ecosystem faces the constant threats of climate change, poaching, and habitat destruction. “In a couple generations, this could all be gone,” he said. 

Credit: Andrew Antone / @AndrewAntone on Instagram

A member and donor of the Santa Barbara Zoo for more than 15 years, Antone is a big supporter of its world-class conservation and education programs. In fact, 50 percent of the proceeds from the book and limited-edition giclées from the show will go directly to those efforts. One of the more rewarding parts of the trip, Antone went on, was seeing his husband Patrick ― who started volunteering at the Zoo when he was 12 and is now an employee ― basking in his element. 

Every day of their two-week trip was packed with adventure, Antone said. They’d wake up at 5:30 and be in the open-air jeeps by 6:30, planning their routes around the animals’ behavior. Elephants, he explained, were the easiest to photograph. “They’re just so majestic,” he said. “Everything they did felt like they were posing for the camera.” Cape buffalo and hippos were the trickiest. 

But never was there any barrier between him and his subjects. “To be less than six feet away from, and look into the eyes of these animals in their natural, unadulterated habitat, was an experience that can’t be communicated in words,” Antone said. “My hope is the book offers a foray in that experience.”

Antone was similarly struck by the attitude of the people he encountered in his travels. “They’re stewards of the land,” he explained. “There’s a lot we can learn from their mentality ― they aren’t the ones who are destroying their backyard.”

If AFRICA can help foster a similar awareness over the fragility of this unique place, Antone said, he’ll be happy. Because the question hasn’t yet been answered: “How are we going to protect this world?”


AFRICA can be purchased at the Santa Barbara Zoo Gift Shop or online at Shopify and The exhibition runs until January 31, 2023 at the Santa Barbara Zoo Discovery Pavilion. You can follow the photographer at @AndrewAntone on Instagram.

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