While sky lanterns are pretty and usually used to represent a joyous accomplishment in someone's life, they're actually illegal in most cases in New York State and pose a threat for animals in the wild and in captivity.

Staff at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse found six burned sky lanterns throughout the zoo last month, littered in trees, exhibits, pools and pathways. While the people who sent the lanterns up in the sky probably didn't intend for the them to land at the zoo, this just shows that everything that goes up must come down... and you don't have control over where it will land.

The zoo took to its Facebook to remind the Central New York community of the potential hazards sky lanterns can cause, specifically to animals. While, luckily, no animals were harmed from the six lanterns found at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, the Krefeld Zoo in Germany lost over 30 primates, birds and fruit bats last New Year's Eve after a barn caught fire from a lantern.

One burning sky lantern is enough to ignite a wildfire, which can destroy a species' habitat and food sources, driving them out of their native range. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to Amur Leopards, a species that has been directly affected by wildfires.

Photo Credit: Maria Simmons
Photo Credit: Maria Simmons

Even after the flame dies out, sky lanterns just become litter that pose a risk for animals, who may ingest or get entangled in them.

Because of the risks of they pose, sky lanterns are illegal in New York State unless they are anchored to the ground. While burning sky lanterns are beautiful, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo suggests alternatives like bubbles and luminaries when celebrating a momentous occasion.

Or.... you can just turn on this iconic scene from Disney's Tangled and live vicariously through Rapunzel and Eugene....

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