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Recycled Plastic Animal Sculptures Wander Into The Desert Botanical Garden

As the temperatures begin to cool down, Arizonans will have more reasons to spend some much needed time outdoors. The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, in particular, has a new incentive to visit.

In addition to their cactus lined landscapes, now you can see “Wild Rising,” a new art installation from Cracking Arts.

The exhibit features more than a thousand animal sculptures that are made out of recyclable plastics. Lauren Warren is the director of exhibits at the gardens and she said that, after the sculptures are shown in 4 or 5 exhibits, it’s not the end of their life cycle.

“So there's this constant act of regeneration ... they’re constantly reusing that material, and so 100% of each one of the sculptures is used, nothing is wasted from that and then it becomes a new sculpture,” she said.

All of the statues are human sized or bigger and are brightly colored. There are snails, meerkats, penguins and even a giant white elephant to represent the "elephant in the room."

Warren said the presence of the statue alone is supposed to make you think about why they feel so unexpected.

“That juxtaposition of the natural and the artificial, the artificial being the sculptures and the natural being our desert environment, is really positioned to prompt visitors to pause and reflect on the presence of plastic in our world,” she said.

The strong environmental message was important to Warren when she thought to bring Cracking Art’s newest piece to the gardens, but she also said the exhibit just makes people happy when they see it.

“They really do kind of spark a very joyful response, they’re just fun, and that natural whimsy really kind of evokes happiness,” she said.

The exhibit is open now at the Desert Botanical Gardens and will run until the middle of May.

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Amanda Luberto was born in California but considers herself a native to the Valley of the Sun. She started as a producer at KJZZ in October 2017, but also interned in the newsroom as a student. She is a proud alumna of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.She has been interested in radio since starting school in 2013. She spent two years as the music director for ASU’s college station, Blaze Radio, and one year as station manager. She spent time as a music programming intern in Washington, D.C., at Sirius XM and as a tech broadcaster for Cronkite News on Arizona PBS. Luberto is dedicated and passionate about quality local storytelling and original content broadcasting.Luberto also spent years as the co-founder and chapter leader of Arizona State University’s chapter of I Am That Girl, an international women’s empowerment organization focused on the collaboration of women and building self-love. She believes in the strength of women supporting women.Her favorite podcast episode is This American Life’s “Fermi’s Paradox,” and she highly suggests you listen to it. Off air, you can find Luberto adding to her list of concerts attended, sipping at a local coffee shop or cheering on the Arizona Coyotes.