A three metre-tall statue of a dancing elephant was donated to the zoo for the opening of its Elephant Crossing exhibit in 2006. It was commissioned to look like Ganesh, a Hindu god worshipped as a remover of obstacles. But Laurie Herron, a Calgary Zoo spokeswoman, said all religious symbolism on the statue was omitted before it was allowed to be displayed. Jim Blake, national chair of Concerned Christians Canada, sent a letter to the zoo on Thursday, calling for the sculpture to be removed.
Officials at the Calgary Zoo say an elephant statue modeled after a Hindu god will stay right where it is. Concerned Christians Canada has sent a letter to zoo officials, asking that the sculpture be removed.The group says that such religious symbols are inappropriate. Graham Newton, a zoo official, says the statue is dedicated to honouring Asian culture because it’s set up near the Asian elephant enclosure.Newton says the symbolic elephant statue has a connection with Asian culture, much like the bald eagle has come to represent the United States. He says there have only been a handful of complaints, but adds most zoo patrons like the statue.
Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Sure we can … but only if we do so out of both sides of our trunk!
Here is yet again, a sad and bitter reminder of the blatant double standard that prevails in our country today.
It was commissioned just for the opening of new exhibit, and intentionally modeled after the god Ganesh precisely for its religious meaning as one who overcomes obstacles. This much is admitted, but then spokespersons turn around and say that it is purely a cultural honourific, not a religious symbol. Indeed, all the religious meaning has been removed from it, except what it represents and why it does so …
Perhaps someone could explain to me how this second statue, not of an elephant in the style of Ganesh, but an actual statue of Ganesh differs enough that I should know when one has religious implications and one does not, because it is only giving a nod to the culture.
Consider also, that since it was only a small number of complaints, it would be silly to acknowledge that real people have been offended … unlike most every time a Christian symbol is publicly brought down for being offensive to small – but important – segments of our society. Apparently, Christians in any number just aren’t that important in public decision-making or accountability any more.
Keep your statue if you like dear Calgary Zoo. It has done its job of bringing media attention to your newly expanded exhibit. But at least have the decency to be honest about who you choose to offend, and why you think it is OK. People have long memories too.