“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

Mother Theresa

I heard about Canstruction: Zoo Can Do It about a  month ago for the first time. I had no idea that there was a similar competition last year but I was excited for it to open to be able to check it out. I was offered to be able to watch the build (which I probably would’ve really enjoyed) but sadly was out-of-town that day. I can only imagine the chaos of 13 local teams of engineers, architects, contractors and students trying to create their sculptures only made of cans, boxes & bottles in the allotted time without knocking them over!

For a little background information before I get to the actual exhibits, the purpose of CANstruction is to raise food for The Food Pantries of the Capital District in a creative way. Though admission is free, you are encouraged to bring canned goods to put in the black bin by your favorite structure. The animal with the most canned goods wins the Community Choice Award. At the end of the exhibit, each structure is deCANstructed and every bit of food is donated to the Food Pantries of the Capital District to go toward feeding local families. The CANstruction event last year fed 83,184 Capital District households and in total they have raised over 60,000lbs of food for the local community. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this event, do your part to help local families who many not be as fortunate as you are. The exhibit is at the New York State Museum on Madison Ave, Albany on the 4th Floor running from April 5-25 from 9:30AM-5:00PM and 9:30AM-3:00PM on April 26. I will be posting some pictures here and you can find an album of all of them on MY FACEBOOK PAGE  but still take some time to check these structures out in person, they really are incredible!

The first animal I ran into was the Peacock done by the RPI School of Architecture who was the first all-student team for the Capital District. On the side of each animal is a poster board explaining characteristics about the actual animal as well as the animal structure. The peacock contains over1600 cans of Green Beans, Diced Tomatoes, Peas, Black Beans and Yams and eventually the team won for Best Use of Labels. This was the first animal I saw and it’s so striking, it really set a good standard for the rest of the exhibit.

Next to the peacock was a Tortoise done by Bergmann Associates who wrote that they chose the tortoise because it portrays  “that this fight [against hunger] isn’t a quick solution but rather a battle over time to help cure hunger in the capital district.” I love that even with these distracting creative animals, the builders never lose sight of the fact that each of these cans will go to feeding someone and that’s the real reason everyone got together.In total, you can find 1400 Cans: carrots, corn, green beans & potatoes and 730 water bottles.

One of my favorites was next, Toucan Sam, but probably because it was the most familiar and there was no mistaking it for anything else! The whole structure contained  895 cans of albacore tuna, 72 cans of starkest tuna, 48 cans of organic peas, 1299 cans of organic green beans, 374 cans of organic mushrooms, 228 cans of corn, 118 cans of chipotle sauce, 100 bags of tuna, 2640 tea bags, 186 packs of ramen noodles and 90 bags of black beans! I can’t even visualize 895 cans of tuna even when it’s put right in front of me, I can’t believe it! Some of the animals had recipes you could make with the ingredients that made it up, this recipe was for Tuna Cakes and Chipotle Salsa and Green Tea Rice and ended up winning Best Recipe! If you want that recipes then you’re gonna have to go to the exhibit to check it out- sounds delicious!

Next was the elephant named CANssandra by CHA Design/Construction Solutions which consisted of 5272 cans which were mostly baked beans and ended up winning an honorable mention! With this structure I actually ended up learning a lot about elephants, for example did you know elephants typically consume between 300-400 pounds of food and 25 gallons of water EACH day. I understand they need a lot of food because of their large size but wow! To put in perspective how big an elephant actually is, the total est. food weight of CANssandra is  3281 pounds vs. the weight of a real life teenage elephant is 3000 pounds. I wouldn’t want to come across either in the wilderness or maybe CANssandra if I had a can opener!

The Juror’s Choice for best was next, the tiger by CSARCH which not only was impressive to look at but I got to talk to two of the guys behind it and learned a bit of insight to the process. CANstruction is actually a nation-wide competition that comes with strict rules to follow such as a time limit of 8 hours that the NYS Museum was a little lenient over this year (this tiger took 10.5 hours). I asked them about how they go about this whole seemingly daunting process. Until Build Day, no team knows what the other teams are building so everyone is learning at the same time. I assumed that there was a bit of practice beforehand and that the tiger didn’t just show up out of nowhere. They said that they practiced some of the crucial parts like the ears and mouth that they knew were going to take the most time but they didn’t have all the cans ahead of time to be able to practice building the whole thing. It was a really interesting process to hear about.

The next animal was the Great Panda built by Creighton Manning  made of 2200 cans total with 730 cans of Tuna, 480 cans of Chicken and upwards of 1000 various cans of corn and types of beans. An interesting fact about pandas is that there are only about 1900 pandas left in the world and are therefore an Endangered Species. So people in various parts of the world are able to see and learn about the pandas, China loans pandas to various zoos to bring awareness to their cause.

The Beaver by GPI had the most interesting facts, in my opinion. Most people from the Capital District know that Albany used to be called Beverwyck but did you know why? Because of the beaver!  Early pioneers traded their pelts locally along the Hudson which led to it being named Beverwyck which later was changed to Albany. Also, the beaver became the New York state animal in 1975. The beaver at the museum is made from 3332 cans with more than 11500 servings of clam chowder, green beans, mushrooms, baked beans, tomato sauce, chunk chicken, black pepper, summer sausage, peanuts and Parmesan cheese (condensed soup was chosen in place of ready-to-serve soup to provide more servings).

Another favorite of mine was the hippo by Mosaic Associates with a rubber duckie float made of 240 Price Chopper Chunk Pineapple cans, swim goggles made with 100 Cento Rolled Fillets Anchovies, a snorkel of 10 Lavazza Caffe Espresso cans and the hippo itself is made from 800 cans of Price Chopper Sliced Potatoes, 50 cans of Price Chopper Sliced Carrots, 50 cans of Price Chopper Homestyle Corned Beef Hash, 1200 cans of Hanover Cannelini Bean, 230 cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce, 20 Hanover Redskin Red Kidney Beans and 2 cans of Folger’s coffee. According to the sign, most hippos weight around 5000-8000 pounds but even with all these canned foods, this hippo came up short at 1300-1500 pounds but that’s still pretty heavy and will be able to feed a LOT of people!

After the exhibit I told all my friends the fun fact I learned from the Red Kangaroo by Sano-Rubin. Did you know that Kangaroos on land must move their hind legs together but can kick each leg independently when in water? BUT are unable to swim backward? The kangaroo is made of 2934 cans total including pork & beans, whole potatoes, green beans, asparagus, frijoles negros, corned beef hash, mushrooms, peas, instant coffee, enriched rice. Nearby in the museum but not something you’d see near a kangaroo in nature was the Burmese Python by CT Male Associates made up of 1235 cans of green beans, 222 cans of corn, 425 cans of beets, 440 cans of sauerkraut, 425 cans of tuna, 37 cans of tomato paste, and 300 cans of spinach which equals 3084 cans total. The python was really cool, I liked the eyes the best. Most vegetable cans I see are green so they ended up lucking out with the color, maybe that’s why they decided to go with that animal.

I couldn’t believe just how many different kind of animals they had at this exhibit. There was a pelican by Weston & Sampson that ended up winning the honorable mention made from over 2000 cans of food. Price Chopper built a spider and won the structural ingenuity award based on their creative use of zip ties as a way to create a hairy effect of the spider and 4010 cans of vegetables (2200 leaf spinach, 710 organic green beans, 650 organic mushrooms and 450 cream style sweet corn). One of the new teams was  Ryan-Biggs and they created some penguins which ended up with a pretty big crowd around it when I got there. The penguins were made up of 830 cans of soup, 460 cans of tuna fish, 760 cans of kidney beans, 318 cans of carrots, 356 cans of corn, 48 cans of green beans, 4 cans of ham, 6 cans of black olives and 483 bottles of spring water.

Their facts focused more on hunger statistics than animal statistics and I was so surprised to learn about it. We can’t forget that the main reason this exhibit is going on is to raise awareness and get donated food for the Food Pantries of the Capital District and the best way to do that is to bring attention to some scary statistics. An estimated 340,000 children living in New York State ALONE are hungry. Over 19million New Yorkers live in poverty and  ¼ of them are children. One in five New Yorkers struggle to feed themselves or their families and nearly 80,000 of those served by the Food Pantries for the Capital District last year were infants and children. 

I appreciate you all reading my blog and looking at the pictures on Facebook but these structures are honestly something else completely in person. Be sure to bring as many can goods as you can and  to tell others to check out these cool CANimals. While I was there, Rose, a student at Niskayuna High School and head of fundraising presented a $200 donation for the Food Pantries of the Capital District. It was great so see so many high school students there to open their eyes to what is happening right in their neighborhood. All the food you see and that is donated will go to local families and could be someone you know or a family that your child goes to school with. Anything you can do to help will be much appreciated.

Can’t make it to the exhibit but still want to help? Go to their donation page to make a monetary donation of whatever you can- http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/zoocandoit/zoocandoit It’s much appreciated!