Oxford

Elephant sculpture commemorates short-lived Oxford Zoo

Rosie the elephant sculpture
Image caption The elephant was lifted into place by a crane

A sculpture has been unveiled of an elephant that once lived and died in a village.

The Elephant named Rosie was the largest draw at the short-lived Oxford Zoo in Kidlington in the 1930s.

The one-tonne 3m-high sculpture is joined by a stork and monkey on the Sainsbury's roundabout, and across the road stands a zookeeper.

Artist Tony Davies said: "Over five miles of wire have been carefully woven and twisted to create the sculptures."

The elephant was lifted into place by a crane, leading to the partial closure of the roundabout.

It was commissioned by Kidlington Parish Council and Cherwell District Council.

Image caption Rosie weighs about a tonne and is three metres high
Image copyright Cherwell District Council
Image caption Artist Tony Davies used mild steel and galvanised wire to create the sculpture

Nigel Simpson, chairman of Kidlington Parish Council, said: "Children in Kidlington are still taught today about our history as home to the Oxford Zoo and the council felt this would be a tangible and fun way to remember Rosie and Kidlington's history."

Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council's lead member for health and wellbeing, said: "It's a surprising part of Kidlington's past, but one which still captures the imagination of young minds."

The zoo opened in 1931 but closed six years later.

Rosie died while in captivity, and according to Kidlington & District Historical Society, she is "widely rumoured to be buried somewhere in the near vicinity".

The site where the zoo stood is now mainly taken up by Thames Valley Police's headquarters.

Image copyright Kidlington & District Historical Society
Image caption Rosie the elephant and Hanno the lion were big draws at the zoo

Image copyright Kidlington & District Historical Society

Other animals at Oxford Zoo included:

  • Three lions
  • A tiger
  • Two leopards
  • Two polar bears
  • An American brown bear
  • A camel
  • A bison
  • Two llamas
  • Wolves

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