Millions of people visit the Florida Panhandle for its beautiful beaches and emerald-colored waters. Soon, they will learn there is far more to discover, love and protect beyond the coast through a feature film called “The Paper Bear.” Audiences will embark on a coming-of-age adventure and immerse themselves in the region’s natural wonders through the eyes of majestic black bears.
“’The Paper Bear’ is a love letter to Florida and, more specifically, the Panhandle,” says Arix Zalace, director and co-founder of “The Paper Bear.” “It’s also an adventure, a drama, a comedy, and all of the elements that will entertain while simultaneously educating you so that more are inspired into action.”
The Florida Panhandle is one of North America’s five richest biodiversity hotspots. Florida has more than 80 distinct ecosystems, and at least 57 can be found in the Panhandle alone. One umbrella species can help protect it all – the black bear. An umbrella species is used as a conservation tool to help protect a larger group of species and their shared habitats. These magnificent creatures have extensive home ranges and rely on numerous biodiverse ecosystems, which is why they play a vital role in maintaining their delicate balance.
To capture the essence and beauty of the Florida Panhandle, the team recruited local and national talent that has worked on award-winning national television shows and films. The animation will play a critical role and provide a beautiful perspective of the region that couldn’t be shown otherwise.
“The Paper Bear” is financed by the team responsible for Nokuse Plantation and the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. Together, they are responsible for maintaining a 55,000-acre nature preserve and educating over 6,500 students across five counties on the importance of biodiversity to encourage conservation, preservation and restoration. Since 2006, Dr. Matthew Aresco has been the director of Nokuse Plantation, and his team has helped advise and gain access to some of the most rare locations for filming that will astonish audiences.
“Large-scale, meaningful conservation of these unique and incredibly beautiful natural areas can be accomplished only through greater public involvement in conservation and funding for land protection.” says Dr. Aresco, “The timely release of this film will educate viewers on why we must strive to protect nature and wildlife habitat and instill a sense of urgency in the need for conservation.”
A special gallery will be presented by The Paper Bear and The Seaside Institute June 26-July 31. The public can view and purchase limited fine art prints at 168 Smolian Circle, Seaside. The Paper Bear co-founder and director, Arix Zalace, created 14 pieces of fine art highlighting critical moments of his time filming and living with wild black bears in the state forests of South Walton, Florida. It took years of preparation, scouting, and waiting to capture the scenes the public will see on display.
To learn more, visit www.thepaperbear.org.