Guarantee Animal Encounters

Photo Courtesy of Pedro Damian Photography

Photo Courtesy of Pedro Damian Photography

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Tanzania in East Africa and view the famous Serengeti annual migration, the largest and longest overland migration on earth. In earlier times, visitors brought home trophies of the “Big 5,” but fortunately today most leave with only photographs of the beautiful African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros, and lion.

The first stop in Tanzania was an inner-city park designed to educate the local children and families on the importance of protecting their natural heritage. The 20-acre park featured a half mile of interpretive trails. The first sign stated “KARIBU-welcome! You are about to start a journey… following the tracks of the wildebeest. You will learn about the Serengeti migrants and their annual cycle.” The walk was memorable, as trail signage was accompanied by sculptures featuring wildlife that I would soon see on the savannah. And then it hit me— a similar concept could be implemented back home in McAllen, Texas.

A Jumping-Off Point

Owned and operated by the McAllen Parks & Recreation Department, Quinta Mazatlan opened in 2006 as a “mansion with a mission.” The department works to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge of birds, animals, and plants, and to encourage stewardship of South Texas. My challenge as the manager is that the agency doesn’t get the “Big 5,” and would be lucky to guarantee sightings of a “Little 5.” So how could staff members entertain, educate, and inspire while communicating our own bio-diversity in a small city park? A Forest Sculpture Trail was the answer!

We began by creating a story line starring the creatures of South Texas. Thanks to the advisory board, we hosted an evening reception at a sculptor’s studio and invited hundreds of guests for free. Douglas Clark, a talented local artist who works in bronze, agreed to create some “clay models” even before we had the first donor. The models were integral in helping sponsors visualize the final pieces in bronze, and commit to a sponsorship.

Four years later, we have completed Phase I, featuring 24 bronze sculptures along the Forest Sculpture Trail. Board members, staff, and donors had to be patient with the timeline, as making a bronze sculpture is a highly skilled art. The life-size or larger sculptures range in price from $7,000 for a Cactus Wren to $20,000 for a

Photo Courtesy of Agustin J. Villarreal

Photo Courtesy of Agustin J. Villarreal

white-tailed doe and fawn. Fifty percent of the final price is customarily paid in advance to the artist to facilitate design and to purchase materials. Because of the generosity of families and corporate donors, the sculpture trail attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually. Each donor is recognized with his or her name engraved on a boulder along with information on the creature at the base of the sculpture.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Stanley Sculpture Garden
  2. Outdoor Sculpture In Chicago’s Parks
  3. The Art Of Exercise
  4. Publisher’s Note–Animal Magnetism
  5. Sculpting A Masterpiece
  • Camp Business
  • Insider Access
  • LA Directory
  • LAB Top Stories
  • Landscape Architect Business
  • Parks and Rec Business
  • Uncategorized