The Truth Behind the Idol at the Calgary Zoo

Whether the name plate that was originally on the statue is removed or not, the statue remains a stylized statue of the Hindi god ganesh …

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Video Source: Lotus Sculpture - Artist that was paid to create the ganesh statue

I was going through my archives today and came across the footage shown in the attached YouTube video which was an interview that the Calgary Herald published on Sep 26, 2009 regarding the erection of a ganesh statue at the zoo. After I wrote the letter and spoke in the media I heard many reports that the coverage was seen far and wide. I was called many unkind things for exposing the hyprocrisy of the zoo, but I thought I would shed some more light on the matter for those who didn't know what the truth is.

The Calgary Zoo clearly lied to the public back in 2006 when they stated that the ganesh statue they ordered using the funds of a hindu donor was not a religious symbol but purely a cultural one. Even the friendly atheist, a clearly non-Christian commentator, chimed in saying:

For some reason, the zoo accepted it and stripped it of “all religious symbolism.” Which is ridiculous because an elephant in that pose is itself a well-known image of Ganesh. That’s like saying someone donated a statue of a man on a cross, and the zoo accepted it because there’s no indication that it’s Jesus.

The right thing to do would be to simply remove the statue.

The truth of the matter is that the statue was commissioned by the Calgary Zoo. It was specifically requested to be a "dancing ganesh" statue and was paid for by a hindu man who donated the statue to the zoo (supposedly "for cultural" "not religious" reasons). The website where one could order their own dancing ganesh stated the following:

  1. "This Dancing Ganesh Sculpture is a custom order.  We do not have this piece in stock.  It must be ordered."
  2. "Approximate time for carving and delivery is one year."
  3. "In 2006 the Calgary Zoo commissioned a large 'Ganesh sculpture' to go in front of a new exhibit the zoo was planning; Elephant Crossings."
  4. "The Ganesh statue took 1 year to carve and then another month to ship to Calgary."

This is how it was marketed on the lotus sculpture store (up until the time the website was no longer available)

  • Calgary Zoo, Elephant Crossing Exhibit "Ganesh Statue" Carved by Lotus Sculpture 108"

Here is a screenshot of the website in case you can't get to the archived verson:

idols at the Calgary Zoo

In a statement by the Calgary Zoo given to the CBC, Grahame Newton stated:

"Our desire in putting the statue here was to demonstrate to our visitors the connection between cultures and animals, much like the same way the bald eagle for example depicts the American culture, the lion Britain, the beaver Canada," explained Grahame Newton, the zoo's director of corporate services, on Friday.

The trouble is that the artist makes it clear that the zoo specifically ordered a "Dancing ganesh" statue valued at $25,000. They didn't merely order an elephant statue, but a ganesh statue. Notice that it is not merely an elephant that is dancing. It is in fact a well known religious icon of the hindu world. Elephants don't have human hands, stand upright like a man, and dance. That should be the first clue that this is not merely an elephant statue. The second clue comes when you follow the money trail and find out that the man who generously donated the "statue" was a hindu man, who would have clearly known that it was a religious icon of his particular religious belief system.

Even the CTV in their coverage rightly acknowledged that:

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and is often the deity whom worshippers first acknowledge when they visit a temple.

This is a clear indication that most hindu worshippers would freely recognize that this is a depiction of the hindu god ganesh and not merely a dancing elephant anthropomorphism. The statue is, as I stated when I wrote the letter to the zoo, a relious symbol and the zoo demonstrated religious preference by displaying a hindu statue within their zoo. When I wrote the letter I mentioned that the zoo is a publicly funded facility and as we have been told over and over again when it comes to Christianity and the public square, there should be "separation of church and state", meaning keep your church out of the publicly funded arena.

The zoo has clearly, not only lied to the public, but has taken on the role of promoting a religious deity on its grounds.

According to CTV News, "The zoo specifically asked the sculptor to remove the religious symbols and icons normally associated with Ganesha." This of course obfuscates the truth and ignores the fact that the entire statue is in fact a religious symbol.

The facts are inescapable, and the Calgary Zoo's double standards are exposed. There is no way that the public would have turned a blind eye if the zoo had decided to put up Christian statues in the publicly funded zoo. Yet, they happily justify commissioning a year long $25,000+ project to promote a hindu one.

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Jim Blake

All glory goes to the living God, maker of the heavens and the earth, for He alone is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. I consider the sufferings of this age not worthy to be compared to what is to come for those who place their faith in the King of kings and persevere in faith, day by day, until the end.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Psalm 103:11-18

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