Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea comes to the Tulsa Zoo

TULSA, OK – There’s a new sculpture exhibit coming to the Tulsa Zoo. The Oklahoma debut of Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea can be seen from June 29, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. Made entirely of plastic debris collected from beaches, Washed Ashore sculptures unmask the impacts of plastic pollution on oceans, waterways and wildlife.

Tulsa Zoo guests can view 11 colorful, larger-than-life sculptures of aquatic animals on display throughout the zoo. This temporary exhibit is included in the cost of regular zoo admission.

The artwork was created by the non-profit organization WashedAshore.org dedicated to educating about plastic pollution through art. Oregon-based artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi and her team of volunteers constructed each piece from plastic litter collected on West Coast beaches.

Guests are invited to get up close to view the sculptures, which range from a 10-foot-tall Adélie penguin, a 6-foot-tall river otter, to a 6-foot-long clownfish with anemones, multiple jellyfish and more.

“We want everyone to examine the artwork closely. You can find everything from flip flops, toothbrushes and bottle caps, to combs, pails and shovels, and plastic bottles, all collected from beaches,” said Washed Ashore Executive Director John Tannous. “The goal of the art is to get people to think about what they buy. When you are no longer using a package or product, it does not disappear. Every piece of plastic in the exhibit was once purchased by somebody.”

The poignant sculptures represent the more than 315 billion pounds of plastic in oceans today.

“Exhibits like this are a way to connect our actions to wildlife conservation,” said Terrie Correll, Tulsa Zoo President and CEO. “These sculptures are a powerful reminder of our personal responsibility, even in landlocked Oklahoma. Bringing together art and conservation, Washed Ashore will visually represent why reducing one-time use plastics is vitally important.”

The zoo is in a unique position to educate guests about how their actions impact wildlife and lead the community in conservation. As part of the zoo’s green practices, the Tulsa Zoo is moving away from plastic that is used once and thrown away. The zoo’s efforts to reduce its ecological footprint were recognized by the Metropolitan Environmental Trust, which granted the 2018 America Recycles Award to the Tulsa Zoo. Also in 2018, the zoo received the Henry Bellmon Sustainability Award for mid-sized businesses from Sustainable Tulsa.