Philadelphia Zoo Rethinks Waste


This summer, the Philadelphia Zoo is featuring  an exhibit of animals and nature sculptures made from used materials.  “Second Nature–Junk Rethunk”  features works of art to show the connection between human behavior and animal endangerment.

This is so well done that I have to devote most of my blog to sharing this work with you.  So!  Let’s go to the Zoo!


White rhino made from 250 silver serving trays by local artist Leo Sewell.  Silver was used to process photographs, leading to the nature awareness message, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.


An eight-foot long crocodile made from chewing gum by Italian artist Maurizio Savini.   Chewing gum is a worldwide problem, costing businesses and taxpayers millions of dollars per year to clean up if not properly disposed.  Chewing gum cannot typically be recycled or composted.


Gigantic gorilla made from cardboard collected onsite at the zoo by Montreal artist Laurence Vallieres.  The sculpture emphasizes our HUGE use of trees for paper and packaging that destroy forest habitats.


Polar bear cubs by Australian artist James Corbett made from  used spark plugs that came from auto workshops.  This brings our carbon emitting car culture into the climate change debate that threatens their environment.


Massive roots made from plastic water bottles by Aurora Robson raises awareness about how so much plastic gets into our oceans.


Great ape made from car doors by New Mexico artist, Don Kennell,  makes the connection to the future of mountain gorillas in Virunga Preserve and SOCO Oil’s efforts to undo the protection this last habitat offers our cousins.


Butterflies and flowers made from car hoods, kitchen tools, traffic signals, heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts, artificial turf and road plate by the collaborative artist group FLUX  establishes a connection between our lifestyle and the imbalance of pollination in our shared environment.


A shadow “Thinker” by Rodin contemplates a gorilla skull made from lighting an assembled pile of discarded electronics by Diet Wiegman from the Netherlands.  It suggests that we should  think more about the possible extinction of our fellow primates.


Precious Few is animals carved from crayons by Vietnamese artist Diem Chau to bring specific attention to many of our endangered species.  An Amur tiger, a Sumatran orangutan and a Panamanian golden frog .

According to the World Wildlife Fund, “destructive human activities” have increased the rate of species extinction from 100 to 1000 times the natural rate.  Since all animal and plant life is part of a complex ecosystem, our disregard for removing one or more of these parts damages the ecosystem, sometimes beyond restoration.

Destructive human activities that endanger species are unsustainable hunting, illegal hunting, trophy hunting, killing large predators that threaten our domestic animals,  introducing invasive species, introducing diseases, pollution and habitat destruction from greed, our unsustainable lifestyles, and over populating our shared home.

This brings us to the discussion about whether zoos are sanctuaries of education and entertainment or unnecessary imprisonment of our fellow residents.

The first modern zoo, the Imperial Menagerie in Vienna, Austria  was established in 1752 and continues to attract visitors to this day.  In Germany, the world’s largest animal collection, Zoo Berlin (formerly The Berlin Zoological Gardens) houses more than 15,000 animals from almost 1,700 species according to online encyclopedia, Encarta.

All U.S. animal exhibitors, like the 265-acre,  Bronx Zoo, must apply for and receive a license from the Department of Agriculture.

175 million people visit the over 10,000  zoos around the world every year, proving that we never grow tired of observing wildlife.

Good zoos play an important role in conservation, education and research and have helped get a few endangered species back in the wild.   They engage local populations in species preservation efforts.  Membership and admissions funding supports animal conservation and preserve management.  All wildlife conservation organizations work with zoos.

How You Can Help:

  • Donate money or time to The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club, International Crane Foundation, Friends of Haleakala National Park, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Oceana, or Conservation International.  These organizations all spend 80% or more of their funding toward conservation so your money goes a long way.
  • Discover your local wildlife preserves and help to keep them viable.
  • Watch and share Virunga: The Movie.   They really need a lot of help!
  • Adopt an animal symbolically with WWF
  • Donate time.  All zoos and preserves have volunteers.  Imagine actually helping The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, The Bronx Zoo or the San Diego Zoo do their work!
  • Let the Philadelphia Zoo know how great their showcase is.
  • Most zoos have reciprocal memberships so visit your favorite animals in your favorite cities.
  • Learn how your waste affects our world.
  • Take a nature vacation and discover how extraordinary wildlife is in a healthy environment.

Until next week,  images-10

Garbage Girl







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s