Historic statues back on display at the LA Zoo

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Some artifacts of Los Angeles history are on display at the LA Zoo. KPCC's Shirley Jahad tells us the concrete statues played a role in some early movie studio lore.

Shirley Jahad: You have to go back a long way to remember the stylized lions and elephants at the entrance of what used to be called the Selig Zoo. Television star and longtime zoo supporter Betty White remembers.

Betty White: The zoo is my other home and I remember these statues from when I was a little girl down at the Selig Zoo. The original. I was born in 1922. They were already up at that point. But to have them in my zoo is wonderful.

Jahad: A few years ago, L.A. Zoo officials found the concrete menagerie collecting dust and deteriorating in a storage yard. Connie Morgan, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, explains the statues' link to the early film industry. They guarded the entrance to a collection of animals silent movie producer William Selig used in westerns and jungle films – including the first Tarzan movie.

Connie Morgan: This is a very exciting moment because these statutes graced one of the first zoos in Los Angeles nearly a hundred years ago. They were sculpted for the Selig Zoo. He established the first film studio in Los Angeles on Glendale.

These sculptures were really lost to the people of Los Angeles for many years. We have undertaken the restoration and placed them in this zoo where we think they belong so that generations of Angelinos and enjoy them for years to come.

Jahad: Young visitors are already enjoying the statues...
Visitors: Cheeeese!
Jahad: ... and taking pictures with them, to remember their trip to the zoo.