St. Louis Zoo Sponsors Young Artist Endangered Species Contest

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLRI) – It's important to have an open mind with endangered insects.

'Bugs don't bother you?' asks Patrick Clark.

'Not really,' says beetle fan Ava Bribriesco.

That's good news, especially when you're about to meet the beetles.

'American Burying Beetle,' says Bribriesco.

Today these kindergarteners from the International Schoolhouse, a Spanish immersion school got up close with some crawling critters.

The zoo has about 800 of the invertebrates that haven't been seen in Missouri since the 1970's.

'Six hundred of those will be going back to the wild in a few weeks,' says Bob Merz the director of the Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation at the St. Louis Zoo.

Thanks to the zoo's conservation efforts, the endangered beetles will soon be back in the Show-Me state.

Today six year old Ava Bribriesco got an American burying beetle named after her.

'Really cool to have a beetle named after me,' says Bribriesco.  'It looked pretty.'

Bribriesco made a collage that won a national endangered species art contest.

'Ava actually was able to depict the process of extinction,' says Carolina Diaz-Silva, director of The International Schoolhouse.

For her efforts she won a trip to Washington D.C. where she'll get a congressional reception and trophy, and of course, the admiration of conservationists and beetle fans everywhere.

'I often don't look at them like a beautiful thing,' says Merz.  'For Ava to do that and show that and share it with us really had a big impact.'

You can bet today's behind-the-scenes bug tour had a big impact on these little ones.

'I think that's cool,' says Bribriesco.

'It's muy bueno?' asks Clark.

'Si,' says the quick witted six year old.

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