Posted at 12:00 am June 5, 2010 by admin

Local Artists Compete to Win the Hearts of the Polar Bears by Sculpting ‘Snow Bears’

In honor of World Oceans Day, the San Diego Zoo’s polar bears played in snow Saturday — and judged the Zoo’s first ever Snow Bear Building Contest.

Twenty-seven tons of shaved ice was blown into the exhibit at the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge early Saturday morning. Then three San Diego-area artists, armed with only shovels and some polar bear treats such as carrots, went to work. A little over an hour later, each had created a fanciful bear from the snow.

When the Zoo’s polar bears, Kalluk, Tatqiq, and Chinook, entered the exhibit, they sniffed the air first and circled the strange new formations. Then the bears began rolling in the snow, sidling up the snow bears and digging under them. After about 15 minutes, Kalluk determined the winner, a sculpture by Fred Briscoe, by knocking off its head. He smashed a second one by climbing on top of it.

“This is the first time the bears have had local sculptors build them snow art to enjoy — and destroy. It was a lot of fun to watch,” said San Diego Zoo Ambassador Rick Schwartz. “And the fact it celebrates World Oceans Day makes it extra special.”

Virginia Hobel Yorgin, a donor and friend of the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, provided the snow, which the bears enjoyed throughout the day.

Competing artists were:

” Fred Briscoe, Lakeside sculptor represented by Alexander Salazar Fine Art in San Diego

” John Brockley, San Diego sculptor and printmaker

” Rae Barney, sculptor, ceramic artist, and owner of Fire and Mud Studios in Escondido

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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