San Jose Seventh-Graders Nab peta2 Award for Lego Robotics Project

Students Propose That Zoos Replace Captive Wild Animals With Life-Size Animatronics and 3-D Holograms

For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2017

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

San Jose, Calif. – This year’s “FIRST LEGO League” robotics tournament featured a special entry from five seventh-graders from Northern California: a proposal for augmented reality (AR) zoos, which would feature lifelike animatronics and breathtaking holograms instead of captive animals. Their project—which nabbed the “Coolest Project” and “Teamwork” awards at the tournament’s regional level and which will soon go on to the national competition—has now earned them a Hero to Animals Award from peta2, PETA’s youth division.

TEAM ARzoo decided to create the project after learning about zoochosis—a psychological illness caused by the deprivation of captivity. “Next time, when I go to a zoo and press my nose to the glass cage, I would like to see a robotics cheetah walking around,” says team member Aarushi Wadhwa. “[I]n my heart I will be happy that the real one is running around freely in the wild.”

“peta2 is recognizing TEAM ARzoo for showing exactly how zoos of the future can celebrate animals instead of denying them everything that’s natural and important to them,” says peta2 Senior Director Marta Holmberg. “These seventh-graders are already leading their generation in making the world a kinder place.”

TEAM ARzoo invited peta2’s lifelike mechanical elephant, Ellie, to give a presentation at the West Valley Branch Library, where she shared with dozens of kids and parents how elephants suffer in zoos and circuses: While elephants in the wild travel as far as 30 miles a day in close-knit family herds, those in captivity may be confined to tiny enclosures in near-isolation, which often leads to arthritis and psychological distress.

peta2—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—is featuring TEAM ARzoo on its website. The team members will also receive framed certificates.

For more information on ways that young people can help animals, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind