The Story of the Calgary Zoo’s Statues
Time capsules, work by famous artists and a mystery lion all inhabit the Calgary Zoo.
A close up of “Just a Taste” by John Seward Johnson Jr.
Photos by Andrew Guilbert
With all the hubbub about the animatronic dinosaurs that have invaded the Calgary Zoo, it’s easy to forget the more permanent fixtures that can be found on its grounds. Unlike the dinosaurs, these one’s won’t be leaving come next October.
This seven foot tall, four-foot wide working armillary sundial was built by Nathan Smith and Robert Dodds of Sunsmith Design for the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Horticultural society in 2008. The sundial also has a time capsule buried at its base, containing seeds and other goodies from the horticultural society, which will be opened in 2108.
Just a Taste
An all-too-real moment for anyone who’s suffered from a sibling’s gluttony, “Just a Taste” has sat outside the Zoo’s Enmax Conservatory since it was donated by The Devonian Foundation in 1983. The artist behind the work, John Seward Johnson Jr., an heir to the Johnson & Johnson family fortune, is also responsible for the chess-playing statue “The Winner” near Century Gardens and the pair of painters titled “So the Bishop Said to the Actress…“near the south entrance of the Municipal Building.
An anonymous donor who wished to honour her father’s memory donated this 3-metre-tall statue back in 2006, when the zoo’s elephant crossing exhibit opened. The statue, made of Indian black granite, took one year to make and arrived with only a day to spare before its grand unveiling. In 2009, Concerned Christians Canada complained it was a religious monument, but the zoo maintains the intent was to show the link between elephants and cultures of the pan-Asian region. You can buy your very own dancing elephant statue from the company who sculpted it, Lotus Sculpture, for a mere $12,000.
Pair of Penguins
This pair greets visitors coming in from the north side entrance and was built by Calgary’s own F & D Scene Changes, the company behind many of the zoo’s more spectacular settings, like Penguin Plunge and Destination Africa. They also helped put together the giant blue egg just outside the zoo’s parking lot, whose official title is “Egg – The Unity of Diversity“.
This one’s a bit of a mystery, with no one on the zoo’s staff able to recall when this lion first showed up or where it came from. If you’ve got any clue, the Calgary Zoo would dearly love to hear from you!