If you're strolling through Taronga Zoo in Sydney in the near future, you may get some otherworldly vibes.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.


The surreal sights and lights, however, aren't meant to pull your head away from Earth — they're there to show you just how precious this planet really is.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Every year, light installations, musical performances, and creative forums take over Australia's largest city in a massive weeks-long event called Vivid Sydney. And this year, Taronga Zoo is getting in on the action.

The zoo created 10 amazing animal light sculptures representing critical species that Taronga is committed to protecting. Here's a look at the spectacular designs:

1. As big and blue as the sky, the Asian elephant is an obvious must-see.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

The real elephants at the Taronga Zoo are part of crucial global efforts to keep this species — which is endangered in the wild — from going extinct. There are as few as 35,000 left in the wild today.

2. Pretty in pink, the Sumatran rhino is hard to miss ... at the zoo, at least.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These delightful creatures, which snack on things like fruit and shrubs, are extremely hard to spot. Experts believe no more than 400 Sumatran rhinos are alive today, making the species one of the rarest large mammals in the world.

3. The marine turtles at Taronga don't need water — they've got plenty of air to swim through.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Marine turtles have called the oceans home for over 100 million years. So it makes sense that Australia is fighting hard to keep them around another 100 million. Many species of marine turtles are classified as either vulnerable or endangered Down Under, which grants them special protections from threats, like hunting.

4. Australian crocs: Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Although freshwater and saltwater crocs in Australia are pretty much terrifying on all accounts, their existence is vital to keeping entire ecosystems in check. That's why it's been illegal to hunt or harm them in Australia since 1972.

5. The pangolin sculpture is rad but certainly not built to scale.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Real pangolins are very small, very scaly, and — for some species — quickly being eaten into extinction. Although it's largely illegal to hunt and trade pangolin for their meat or scales, conservationists are facing an uphill battle in keeping these little guys out of unsafe hands around the world.

6. With its bold stripes and small stature — er, small for a wild cat, that is — the Sumatran tiger is in dire need of our help.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Sumatran tigers — the smallest surviving tiger subspecies in the world — are prime victims of deforestation and poaching. Their numbers have dropped significantly in recent decades, with as few as 400 alive today.

7. Lemurs are holding on tight to every last branch they have left.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Lemurs don't have much in common with the Sumatran tiger, but being a victim to deforestation is a big one. The furry creatures, native to Madagascar, have faced steep population declines due in large part to forest burning that creates more pastures for livestock.

8. Corroboree frogs are hoping humans can save the day.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Although they're among Australia's most iconic (and toxic) amphibians, the southern corroboree frog is critically endangered. Who's to blame? In large part, a widespread fungus that prevents them from breathing through their skin. So the Taronga Zoo teamed up with Australia's Department of the Environment to launch a breeding program to make sure this species doesn't disappear forever.

9. It doesn't get more peak Australia than the platypus.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Splashing around in eastern Australia and Tasmania, the platypus has garnered the attention of folks wanting to make sure these uniquely adorable creatures stay around for as long as possible. Evidence suggests overfishing and dried-up rivers could be affecting platypus numbers, so activists are keeping watch.

10. If you're keeping your eyes on the skies to spot a regent honeyeater, you may be waiting awhile.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These gorgeous yellow and black birds used to be seen in flocks of hundreds, according to the Australian government. But gone are the good old days. Their dwindling habitats in the Victoria and New South Wales forests have been a key concern for advocates rooting for these honeyeaters to stick around.

The zoo also included several other sculptures to complement the critical species — "a supporting cast of creatures," so to speak — to celebrate as well.

11. Echidnas are strange and wouldn't have it any other way.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Let's face it: Echidnas are the perfect kind of weird. These funky, spiny anteaters are extremely rare and one of only two mammals that lay eggs (the other is the platypus!).

12. If you're going to create bright light sculptures of animals, it'd be an injustice to overlook chameleons.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

These wacky lizards — which come in various shapes and changing hues — have long, sticky tongues and eyes that move independently from each other.

13. Cicadas aren't the coziest creatures on this list, but they might be the most interesting.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

There are around 3,000 species of these paper-clip-sized, buzzing, clicking creatures. Amazingly, certain species have been known to disappear entirely for years, only to return back in full force (like, no big deal — nothing to see here).

14. Speaking of non-cozy animals, I've saved the least cuddle-worthy for last. Meet the funnel web spider.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

Eesh. These Australian natives are creepy, crawly, eerily fast on their feet, and definitely deadly. (I'll wait as you glance around the room to make sure none are hiding nearby...)

If you happen to be Down Under between May 27 and June 15, 2016, say hi to all the creatures at Taronga Zoo.

Regardless of whether they're the real deal or a bundle of bright lights, the animals serve as a great reminder that all life here on Earth is definitely worth protecting.

Learn more about Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo.

Former officials from the George W. Bush administration and campaign launched a super PAC in support of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, declaring they "knew it was time to take a stand." They claim that they seek to unite and mobilize a community that is historically Republican voters. The group, consisting of at least 200 former officials, aides and Cabinet secretaries, formed "43 Alumni for Biden" to block President Donald Trump from winning a second term. They claim on their website that there have been "far too many days filled with chaos emanating from the highest levels of government" and that "political differences may remain among us, but we look forward to a time when civil, honest and robust policy discussions are the order of the day."

When I read about "43 Alumni for Biden," it gave me a great sense of hope. Even though I didn't vote for Biden and I'm not a huge fan, I am liberal and think it's important to accept anyone willing to admit that they are disappointed in their political party. It takes someone with real strength to admit the damage that has been done to our nation by Trump's presidency. It takes even more strength to say they voted for Trump, they were wrong and now they want to fix it.

My optimism has less to do with what side they are on and much more to do with the act of reaching across the isle. Almost all politicians have their heels dug on issues that align with their respective political party. The only thing worse than someone trying to prove that they are always right is someone putting all their energy into proving that their counterpart is consistently wrong.

What is even more counterproductive is the person who waggles the "I told you so" finger in the face of someone who has the audacity to change their mind and actually agree with them. Why anyone would shame someone for having the courage to admit they were wrong is a concept that befuddles me to this day. Yet it happens more often than not. The fear of being ridiculed plays a huge role in our inability to be vulnerable. We have an opportunity to come together as a country. As long as we all grow the hell up.

When a politician changes their stance on an issue whether it is because of new information or just a change of heart—especially after reflecting on things and keeping an open mind, they are labeled as a flip flopper. Somehow it seems like they have more credibility if they can say that they believed something all along because it makes them look smart. Ask yourself, who do you trust more: someone who always says they are right or someone who can utter the words "That's a really good point?" We need to take it upon ourselves to be the bigger person.

Remember all that progress you made in your relationship when you screamed at your partner with guns a blazing telling them how wrong they were. Remember when they responded by telling you that you had excellent points and they would try and do better from now on. Oh, wait. You probably can't because that never happens. But I could be wrong (see what I did there).

Now imagine a time when you might have made a mistake, and your partner speaks to you with tenderness and understanding with the inevitable dash of disappointment because, lets face it, you deserve it. I think we would all opt for the undesirable cherry as opposed to a full on sundae of shame.

We are imperfect emotional beings and protect our psyche like a dog learning the boundaries of a newly installed invisible electric fence. Once our pride gets zapped, we are less likely to venture out as far, and in fact, will most likely recoil deep within the boundaries of our comfort zone.

The people involved with 43 Alumni for Biden have been able to reassess the state of the Republican party to which they held such loyalty. Just because they are supporting a Democrat in Joe Biden, doesn't mean they need to turn their back on their traditional Republican views. This is about more than just taking a step back and putting aside any blind loyalty one might have to their respective political party. It is unclear what percentage of the organization voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I am going to guess not very many punched a chad for Hillary Clinton.

When you vote for someone, you have put your trust in them. That leads to defending any perceived missteps they may have had because you advocated and believed in them. The more controversy there is, the more you feel the need to justify your vote and defend them even more. Then you find yourself defending the fact that you are defending them and believe the negative news coverage is a lie or a smear campaign.

I did it with both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the midst of everything that was being said about them. Then I stopped and thought about what my thought process would be if it was George W. Bush that was being accused of the exact same things. It was the moment I realized I wasn't being honest with myself. The diagnosis? We protect our ego on subconscious and primal level and fear the vulnerability that comes with admitting that we were misguided. Once we are able to face that, we can really get to the core of why we don't budge.

We are going to need all the communication skills we can muster up because if you think the months were bizarre leading up to the 2016 election, I am pretty sure Kanye West has something special planned for us. Buckle your seatbelt and open your minds because just when you thought 2020 couldn't possibly have any surprises, things are about to get even weirder.