2017 #IronViz Feeder #2: Safari

Tableau announced the 2nd round contest on June 9th for their upcoming #IronViz competition at #Data17.  The goal, create the best visualization using any data related to plants and/or animals.  For me and much of the Tableau community, the great vizzes of Jonni Walker immediately came to mind.  I suspected that most people would pick an animal and create a visualization in his distinct style (like this awesome viz from Ken Flerlage).  I know I couldn't come remotely close to doing this style justice, so I wanted to create something completely different. 

The Ideas

Drafted a huge list of potential ideas, here are a few that didn't pan out due to lack of data or lack of a full story:
-Ways to die on a Safari
-Deadliest animals on a Safari
-Poisonous plants (Castor Seed, Lilly of the Valley [recently watched Breaking Bad for a 2nd time])
-Darwin's Hawkmoth

While trying to find a decent dataset, I kept thinking that I wished the topic was sports related and Eureka! I decided to explore all of the sports teams that used animals in their names or logos and talk about the different types of teams.  I had tons of questions, how many bird teams are there in football (seems like a lot), what animal is most commonly used for a team?  What percent of all teams even used animals?  


I had to build my own dataset for this one, so hit wikipedia and pulled the list of team in the major 4 sports.  This is for an #ironviz, so I had to go the extra mile and find the animals for all major and minor leagues and also included soccer and lacrosse in the mix - over 500 teams to evaluate.  I then tried to classify each animal down to the species level - quite a challenge.  I'm sure I have some quality issues.  In many cases, I just had to guess on the species (I have no idea what species of duck the Anaheim Ducks use in their logo.  I thought it would be fun to make the data available on Github


I agonized over this way too long and probably worked on it every night for the contest.   I think my overall sheet count exceeded 100 (deleted most of them) and used about 10 in the final viz.  Here is an early reject


I know wanted to use the team logos so the reader could see the relationship between the team and the biological taxonomy of the species.  I tried using some animal stock photos, but some of these teams were really specific and the quality of them was extremely variable.  I ultimately opted for the silhouette style of RJ Andrews to standardized the look across a wide variety of species.  I wound up creating all of the shapes in power point and using about 250 custom shapes in the viz.     

Inspiration, Help and Thanks

My main design inspiration for this viz was Adam McCann's Beatles viz (one of my all-time favorites).  After I started developing it and created the Sankey, I couldn't help but make the parallels and tried to model my viz in a similar fashion. The sankey tutorial was based off of Jeff Shaffer's work here.  Finally, I must have referenced Andy Kriebel's site a few times.  His small multiple X/Y tutorial made the logo section work. Finally, got lots of great feedback from the community on this one: @Josh_Tapley, @acrahen, @DrexelPooja, @taawwmm, @AmarendranathD, @DataBradKenny, and @Harris7Curtis.  Thanks for all of the feedback!  Hope you like it.

Next Steps
Anyone interested in the design and creating an NCAA or European Football version?