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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lego Artisan Creates Endangered Species for Zoo

by Stephen Messenger

For more pictures see the slideshow! or go to

With the precarious state of ecosystems throughout the world today, it is difficult to know for certain which threatened species will continue to be around for future generations - and which will have gone the way of the Dodo. But as sobering of a legacy that may be, it is increasingly important to raise awareness of these fading animals early and often to the children of today, whose attitudes and actions as adults may determine the fate of the planet's biodiversity. So, with that in mind, one zoo is educating its young visitors about the importance of preservation in an imaginative way--with an exhibition of endangered animals constructed out of Legos.

Opened yesterday, the Philadelphia Zoo's Lego-made exhibit, called ''Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure," features the work of world-renowned Lego artist Sean Kenney. According to Kenney, the 34 animals he created for the zoo took him over one year to complete--the largest project he's undertaken. Included in the exhibit are sculptures of endangered birds, frogs, tamarins, and a polar bear made with 95,000 Lego pieces.

"I love being able to explain serious problems in ways that kids can understand them," says Kenney.

In addition to the Lego sculptures, each exhibit features a description of how the animals' habitat is under threat, and simple ways that everyone can help aid in its protection. Visitors are encouraged to recycle, avoid environmentally irresponsible products, and bicycle instead of drive when they can.

Zoo officials are hoping that folks who may have been drawn in by the impressive sculptures will walk away with a better understanding of threatened ecosystems and what they can do to lower their impact.

Vikram Dewan, the zoo's president:
Every child -- and adult, for that matter -- can relate to the universal desire to protect our planet, this place we call home. A key principle of our new exhibit is showing how our world fits together and how we all connect with it.
Similar exhibits are scheduled throughout the year with five more Lego-certified professionals on board to present their creations of more species that could benefit from raised awareness about their condition. After all, unless future generations move forward with more mindfulness of the world's most threatened animals, their Lego-built counterparts may be all that remain.

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