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Buffalo Zoo unveils plastic bag polar bear sculpture

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Thu, Nov 12th 2015 04:00 pm

The Buffalo Zoo has installed a new feature in the Arctic Edge exhibit.

A sculpture of a polar bear named Terra was added to the new Arctic Edge exhibit. The installation was constructed out of more than 1,500 plastic shopping bags - the amount used by the average American family of four in one year.

"One of the main goals of the new Arctic Edge exhibit is to educate people about environmental conservation, and why protecting the environment is important for the survival of not just polar bears, but all species," said the Buffalo Zoo's curator of education, Tiffany Vanderwerf. "A lot of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere when plastic bags are produced, and that carbon dioxide is causing the earth's sea ice to melt. Polar bears and other Arctic species depend on sea ice for survival. We hope that this sculpture will serve as a visual reminder for families that the actions they take at home can have a big impact on the natural environment, and the survival of these animals."

Buffalo Zoo staff and volunteers spent months collecting the bags and constructing the sculpture. It will be on display near the Arctic Edge Interpretive Center.

Megan Monaco, a keeper who works closely with the polar bears and who spearheaded the effort to create the sculpture, said, "Our amazing docents and volunteers did a fantastic job and worked incredibly hard on this project, and I'm so thankful for all they did to help me with it.

"We wanted to show visitors just what a large impact their actions can have on the natural world. This is the amount of bags that just one family uses in a year, and when you see it all together, you realize just how much plastic that is. These bags don't go away once they are thrown out; they just sit in landfills and can end up in our waterways and can harm wild animals.

"We hope this will encourage our visitors to reuse plastic bags whenever they can, and to make the switch over to reusable shopping bags, to help protect not just polar bears, but all animals and our entire planet."

The Arctic Edge, presented by Tops Friend Markets, is open during regular Buffalo Zoo hours, and free to visit with regular admission. For more information, visit www.buffalozoo.org or call 716-837-3900.

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