A sea star thrusts out its five arms in perfect formation, displaying all its spiny splendor. A sea turtle glides past a creeping octopus. A shark bares its razors for teeth. This all could be playing out beneath our waves, but these creatures and others have also found a temporary home at the Naples Zoo. The exhibit Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea is there through April 21.
The traveling show was founded by an artist from Oregon and features more than 70 sculptures made entirely of plastic waste collected from beaches. The pieces are impressive in their size, color and beautiful craft, yes. But by fashioning art out of debris, Washed Ashore also draws attention to the need for wildlife conservation—a driving mission of the Naples Zoo—and pollution reduction. In tandem with the exhibit, the zoo also is encouraging hospitality-based businesses to take the Skip the Straw pledge and cut down on their use of plastic straws and other products.
Just as the zoo is no stranger to conservation efforts, this also isn’t the first time it has supported the union of animals and art. In the fall, it hosted the Naples chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers’ Wild Tracks Art Auction. To the delight of attendees, animals were provided with the tools to produce abstract paintings. The paintings were then auctioned off, and proceeds went toward purchasing enrichment toys and other items for animals at the zoo.