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Zoo encourages recycling through art

The king of the jungle was crafted from toilet paper rolls, Popsicle sticks and yarn for the zoo event in 2019.

The Roosevelt Park Zoo will be holding its second annual Recycled Art Contest this week. This year, the contest will have to be held online, like many other art exhibitions during the pandemic.

Nicole Barnhart said that as of April 17 they had received about seven contest entries. Each animal-inspired entry was made of materials that would otherwise have ended up in the garbage. Anything can be used, including a television, old toys, books and more, as long as the finished product stays under three feet in any dimension.

“The goal of the Recycled Art Contest is to give things a new life and a new purpose,” Barnhart said.

To add aesthetics to the recycled art pieces, the artists can use anything to give it color, like paint. Barnhart said papier-mache is also a possibility.

At last year’s contest, only one person submitted a piece of art: a welded peacock made out of scrap metal. The artist added color to her work only with heat while welding it.

The pieces will be judged by zoo staff based on varied criteria, according to the zoo’s website: visual impact, interpretation and creativity, composition/design, craftsmanship, artist’s statement and bonus/amaze. The maximum amount of points the entry will receive in each category is 10.

The contest is split into three groups: classroom/school division, family division and adult division.

The classroom/school division was still accepting submissions as of April 17. Barnhart got an email from a teacher, saying they may have their students make something to enter while the schools are closed.

Children who want to enter a piece on their own and not in connection with their school may do so in the family division. Teens who would like to compete may either enter in the family division or in the adult division.

Different prizes will be given out for those who place in first, second and third.

The classroom/school division winner will receive a pizza party for the whole class and a Zoo to You outreach animal visit. Second place will receive a cookie party for the whole class and a Zoo to You outreach animal visit. A treat bag for the whole class and a Zoo to You outreach animal visit.

In the family and adult divisions, the winners will be given an RPZoo Family membership and a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo animal kitchen for up to six people. The second-place prizes are a gift basket of Earth Day-inspired reusable items and $15 in gift shop zoo bucks. The third place prizes consist of $15 in gift shop zoo bucks and the choice between a plush animal toy or a zoo t-shirt.

The schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Barnhart said that the prizes will be honored when students are allowed to gather in the fall. If the contestants in the family and adult divisions already have a membership, the ones that were awarded will be honored in 2021. For further information, visit rpzoo.com/recycled-art-contest/ or call Barnhart at 857-4166.

In a time when litter lines the streets, congests the rivers and streams, and rolls around like tumbleweeds, creating something beautiful with those materials will help prevent them from causing damage to the environment. In a time when everyone is mostly confined to their homes, something art-related can keep hands and minds busy.

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