In addition to its current elephantine residents, Zoo Miami is about to get another. This one, however, is inanimate.
In celebration of Endangered Species Day (tomorrow, May 20), Trend Group — the world’s largest producer of full-body glass mosaic, gold mosaic, and Venetian enamel — has donated a life-size gold mosaic elephant to the Zoo Miami's menagerie. The artwork is valued at $100,000.
"This stunning piece took 12 mosaic artists more than a year to create," says Andrea Di Giuseppe, global CEO of Trend Group. "It weighs 2,710 pounds, is a towering 16 feet tall, seven feet wide, and 27 feet long. Thousands of 24-karat gold mosaic pieces make up the statue.
"We have been searching for its perfect 'forever home' and know the local community will enjoy and embrace it."
The gilded mammal will become a permanent fixture in the African elephant exhibition, which includes live pachyderms Peggy and Mable. Plus, Zoo Miami welcomes newer arrivals Lisa and Cita. Together, these four females are affectionately known as the Golden Girls, thanks to their ages — 40, 42, and 48.
The idea of the new sculpture is to bring attention to the plight of elephants everywhere, which face serious threats thanks to poaching, climate change, habitat loss due to animal agriculture, and other manmade disasters. These intelligent animals form deep family bonds, have remarkable memories, and grieve the loss of their loved ones — much like we humans do. Researchers have found that they also experience joy, anger, and a range of other emotions.
In a sign of changing attitudes about elephants (and animals in general), Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently bowed to public pressure and removed elephants from its traveling shows.
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"Raising awareness on the importance of protecting endangered species in general is a cause that we’ve always been passionate about," Di Giuseppe says. "One way that we try to do our part is by always being environmentally conscious in all that we do."
All in all, the impressive new golden elephant will be hard to miss. "It’s certainly going to be a standout, eye-catching piece that will enhance the exhibit," he adds.
Despite the aesthetic appeal of the halcyon sculpture, however, nothing can compare to the precious nature of the real thing. Elephants are irreplaceable, so let's not wipe them out.
Golden Girls Golden Statue Unveiling
11 a.m. Friday, May 20, at Zoo Miami. Featuring speakers Andrea Di Giuseppe (global CEO of Trend Group) and Ron Magill (Zoo Miami communications director). Unveiling is for media/by private invitation only. The statue will be on view for visitors starting Saturday, May 21. Visit zoomiami.org.