Throughout the property, we host beautiful sculptures, literary display pieces, and striking monuments amongst our lush gardens. In addition, we collaborate with talented local artists to create nature-based exhibits in Palm Plaza Café and are dedicated to growing new opportunities for both two-and three-dimensional artists alike.
The Zoo and Gardens often feature traveling sculptural exhibits that not only reflect our commitment to animal and plant conservation, but also take into consideration ethical and purposeful construction. These pieces emphasize the use of recycled or reclaimed materials while offering a unique presentation of flora and fauna for all to enjoy.
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has an exhibition of wildlife photos by photographer, educator, and writer John Reed on display at Palm Plaza Café. Every photo displayed has been taken at the Zoo from 2003 to present. Reed is a published local and national nature photographer, Zoo Member, and leader of the Snapshot Society where he facilitates members-only photo events. “John Reed is an outstanding wildlife photographer who connects people with art and nature at the same time. He has been a great friend and supporter of the Zoo, and we are thrilled to share his talent with our guests,” said Executive Director Tony Vecchio. Reed’s exhibition was facilitated by the Zoo’s Art Committee and is one of many initiatives to support local artists and bring awareness to the connection between art and the Zoo. “Just as the Zoo is for everybody in our community, I believe art is something that everyone should have access to. We have worked very hard for the past ten years to build connections with the arts and culture community in Jacksonville. Allowing the Zoo to be a venue for art has been a great way to strengthen those relationships,” said Vecchio.
There are a total of 16 pieces throughout our Gardens: two giraffes, four elephants, two lions, two peacocks, two cranes, a rhino, hippo, zebra, and bald eagle. Every piece is made out of recycled metal, including scraps from metal barrels and auto parts.
These sculptures were made by a group of 19 artists from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds, who were recruited by Wildlife Garden Creations in Nairobi, Kenya. They are a group called the Ark Collective that are taught valuable skills such as design, metal cutting, welding, painting, and molding to empower them to be self-sustaining, productive members of their communities.
This 20 foot giraffe will greet you as you walk through Donor Plaza near our the front gate! UNF Professor of Sculpture, Jenny Hager, made it entirely from steel with the help of her husband, Lance Vickery, and UNF students.
These life-size, bronze elephants were a gift from Ann and Ted Baker in 2006 and created by Peter Woytuk. Together they weigh almost 15,000 pounds!
This bee hotel was specifically designed by Lad and Mindy Hawkins, to allure native solitary bees to our Gardens by providing natural nesting cavities. There are over 21,000 species of bees buzzing around worldwide, and 316 of those species are native to Florida. The bees attracted to this house are not aggressive, rarely sting, and provide important pollination services and pest control!
Brian Frus is an Associate Professor of Glass Art at Jacksonville University.
Back at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on April 25!
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