From long-necked giraffes to pink flamingos and tuxedo-clad penguins, animals make great photo subjects for a contemporary museum devoted to promoting Central Coast wildlife. Add a local zoo as the perfect backdrop, throw in some prizes for best “pics” and everything clicks for a popular photography contest.

Shutterbugs are invited to submit their photos of animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo as part of a new “Wild Things” contest. Sponsored by the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, winning photographs will be featured as part of the museum’s “Wildling at the Zoo” collaboration. It’s a special exhibit that’ll be on view in the Volentine Gallery at the zoo’s Discovery Pavilion, opening later this year.

The deadline for photo entries has been extended to Thursday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m.

“Wild Things” has two categories — one for adults (18 or older) and another for children (17 or younger).

It’s a juried exhibit, with prizes awarded for first, second and third place in both age groups. Prizes include memberships and passes to both the Santa Barbara Zoo and the Wildling Museum in Solvang. In addition, gift cards and gifts will be awarded.

Capture the image

“The aim is to have photographers of all ages and skill levels capture the character and individuality of the animals that live at the zoo, from large to small, and to have fun doing it,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, executive director of the Wildling Museum.

“Focus on your favorite animal or simply explore,” she continued. “We are looking for images as wild as the zoo itself.”

The “Wild Things” exhibit, which opens April 9 in the zoo’s Volentine Gallery, will include award winners and other entries selected by the judges. Many of the photographs will be for sale, with proceeds benefiting the artist, the zoo and the museum.

Three awards for each age category will be announced at the exhibition’s opening:

First place: membership to each organization, zoo train and giraffe-feeding passes, $25 gift card to each organization’s gift store, artwork made by one of the zoo’s animals;

Second place: family four-pack of entries to each organization, zoo train and giraffe-feeding passes, gifts from each organization’s gift shop;

Third place: two passes to each organization and gifts from each organization’s gift store.

Wildling at the Zoo

This is the second collaboration between the Santa Barbara Zoo and the Wildling Museum in Solvang. Last year, museum staff curated an exhibit of student art at the zoo tied into the Wildling “Animals from A to Z” exhibit. The partnership continues with this photo contest and exhibit.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with the Wildling,” said Dean Noble, marketing director for the Santa Barbara Zoo. “Both our missions are to connect people with animals and nature, either in person or through artwork. We look forward to more collaboration and more great art in the Volentine Gallery.”

The Wildling Museum offers visitors a unique perspective on the importance of preserving the Central Coast’s natural heritage. Through the eyes of artists, education and field experiences, guests can renew their relationship with the wilderness and understand its fragile nature for future generations to enjoy.

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