Artists build sand sculptures in front of visitors’ eyes at GaiaZOO Zoo

28 April 2022

The construction of the Limburg Sand Sculpture Festival can be followed live

In the Limburg Zoo GaiaZOO preparations have started for the sand sculpture festival ‘ZOO van ZAND’. Over the next five weeks ten sand sculptures will be built at various locations in the park. GaiaZOO wants to teach its visitors more about endangered species, breeding programs and what the zoo itself does to protect nature. A total of nine artists from the Netherlands and Canada are working on the construction of the sculptures. Visitors to the park can watch the artists at work every day for the next few weeks. The festival will be festively launched at the beginning of June.

The white rhino of Limburg sand
Two artists will be working next week on the first sand sculpture: a four-meter-high, eight-meter-wide sculpture of a group of savannah animals threatened with extinction in the wild, such as the white rhino. “More than 40,000 animal and plant species are at risk of extinction,” explains Rob Huppertz, director of GaiaZOO. “Through a life-size sand sculpture, we are calling attention to the preservation of these species.” A total of 300 tons of sand, literally sourced from Limburg soil, will be used to build the sculptures. “The sand from our own rivers turned out to be perfect for use in terms of structure. To make it workable, however, it first had to be compressed with water and pounded layer by layer. This turned it into a hard block of sand, which the artist could then cut into.”

Sand artists from different corners
From various corners of the country, a group of well-known sand artists have united in Kerkrade to participate in the sand sculpture festival. Johannes Hogebrink, finalist in the Aan het Zand programme, will be responsible for the sculpture of Mother Earth (GAIA). Anique Kuizenga, known as a member of the jury of the SBS6 program De IJsmeesters (The Ice Masters), is working on the berber monkey sculpture. “I am extremely happy to be part of this special project. The theme of nature and species conservation really appeals to me. I think it’s great that I can combine my love of animals with my work.”

Sand artists in action
At various locations within the zoo, nine artists are working on ten sand sculptures. All sculptures refer to the theme of nature and species conservation. An important theme within GaiaZOO’s right to exist. The zoo is not only there for recreation, but also for education, research and nature conservation. For example, GaiaZOO works with other European zoos (united in EAZA) to preserve hundreds of endangered species. This is done through so-called EEP breeding programs. The goal is to maintain healthy animal populations in zoos. Some animal species, such as the golden lion monkey and the Przewalski horse, even live in their natural habitat again thanks to the EEP programs.

Visitors to the park can watch artists at work every day for the next five weeks. It is also possible to follow the process from the first cut-out to a full-blown sculpture online via a livestream. In addition, regular updates about the sculptures and artists will be shared on social media. All the sculptures will be on display from 2 June and ZOO van ZAND will be officially opened.

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