A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure

By Alex Frisch

Rizzo the polar bear is getting some company at the Utah Hogle Zoo, in the form of a life-size LEGO brick buddy. This 95,000-piece polar bear sculpture is one of more than 30 LEGO animals featured in the Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure exhibit now visiting the Zoo. Creatures of Habitat also features an orangutan (13,750 pieces), 13 golden lion tamarins (2,500 pieces each), a snake (6,500 pieces) and two kingfishers (300 pieces each). Also made of LEGOs are various types of rain forests, ranging from destroyed habitat to healthy habitat. By bringing attention to nine endangered species and their vanishing habitats, it is the Zoo’s hope that this unique, one-of-a-kind animal experience will inspire conservationists of all ages.

From Borneo to Brazil, Africa to the Arctic, the animals featured throughout Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Adventure takes Zoo explorers to the far reaches of the world. Through the use of LEGO animals and creative set designs, visitors will learn first-hand how human behavior impacts and endangers the habitats of thousands of animals. Featured habitats include: the Arctic, where melting ice is jeopardizing polar bears; Peru and a gang of hungry penguins due to overfishing; North America, where the terrapin turtle struggles to survive the nations booming population and development growth; Guam and the invasive brown tree snake; Ecuador, where brightly colored amphibians are succumbing to a deadly fungus; Borneo and the palm oil crisis; the Congo and endangered gorillas and Brazil, where golden lion tamarins numbers are fewer than 1,500 left in the wild.

The artist behind the sculptures is Sean Kenney, one of only 13 certified LEGO artists and the first to be declared a LEGO Certified Professional. The New York City-based creator spent more than five months constructing the exhibit. The LEGOs are stuck together with special glue made to withstand outdoor weather for 10 years. Kenney said in a news release that he uses photos of his subjects to help with the building process, and also draws sketches to figure out the animal’s basic pose. He does not use any computer applications to build—if the animal doesn’t look right, he just pulls the LEGOs apart and starts again.

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. 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. Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure is an enthusiastic, inspiring and fun way to learn more about what you can do to help keep the world we live in beautiful and healthy; a place all animals can thrive.

hoglezoo.org | 801-582-1631

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