Call it an 800-mile zoo parade.The first four of 15 flatbed trailers holding what will be the world's largest public zoo sculpture left a North Tonawanda truck yard today, headed for the St. Louis Zoo.
A 4,400-pound steel rhinoceros led the procession from LTR Rigging and Hauling on Robinson Road.
The first group also included an elephant and giraffe chained upright to truck beds. Four more tractor-trailers will leave Friday, and the rest next week.
When the convoy arrives in St. Louis, the massive figures – fabricated by Klein Steel Services of Rochester and welded by General Welding of Attica – will be assembled into "Animals Always." The work by Rochester sculptor Albert Paley will stand at the entrance of Forest Park and the zoo. The 200-ton sculpture will be 130 feet long, 36 feet high and 8 feet deep. It will contain more than 1,300 elements, including aquatic, avian and land wildlife. As many as 60 sculpted animals, mainly endangered species, will peek out at visitors from behind steel trees and other plants.
Funded by St. Louis Zoo patrons Thelma Zalk and Steve and Andi Schankman, "Animals Always" is the first representational work made by Paley. The Rochester Institute of Technology professor's sculptures are found in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.
The giant metal sculptures were welded together in Attica and then dismantled and rigged by LTR for the trip.
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has more:
It contains more than 60 recognizable animals. Elephants and penguins are joined by such rarities as a cassowary (a flightless Australian bird) and a hellbender (a giant salamander). They're woven into a steel archway of trees and plants that will dominate the zoo's southeast corner.
"It's about how we relate to a threatened environment," said Paley. "The St. Louis Zoo is involved with many international programs to save endangered species, and I'm glad to be associated."
The sculpture and the new plaza housing it each cost $1 million. Costs were evenly shared by St. Louis philanthropists Thelma Zalk and Steven Schankman.
(Some of you may know that I am originally from St. Louis, and worked there for many years. Some of you may also know that one of the greatest contributions of St. Louis to American cuisine–more than the hot dog on a bun, more than the ice cream cone, more even than St. Louis-style pizza–is toasted ravioli. Hence the name of this blog.)