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 …
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:
- "This Dancing Ganesh Sculpture is a custom order. We do not have this piece in stock. It must be ordered."
- "Approximate time for carving and delivery is one year."
- "In 2006 the Calgary Zoo commissioned a large 'Ganesh sculpture' to go in front of a new exhibit the zoo was planning; Elephant Crossings."
- "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:
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 a
- Dancing elephant statue stays, says Calgary Zoo - Sep 25, 2009 3:01 PM - CBC News
- Controversy over zoo statue - September 26, 2009 11:48AM - CTV News