WWL: 'Animals in pools' bring wildlife to downtown

The animals have been around since 1986

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- We walk by them everyday. And most of the time, we barely take notice.

Wild animals, right in the heart of Portland: There's a bear and it's two cubs, some ducks wading in a fountain, a doe, a group of beavers and even some otters.

Sure, they're fake and made of bronze, but they help make downtown alive, here in the place we live.

"Yes, people do walk by them every day," said Keith Lachowicz with the regional arts and culture council. "But it is sort of a part of the landscape down here, and I think people really enjoy them."

There are 23 bronze animals -- all native to the Pacific Northwest -- on 11 fountains surrounding Pioneer Courthouse. The sculptures, called "animals in pools," were installed in 1986, when the first light rail started running along Yamhill and Morrison. TriMet, downtown merchants and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation paid for it.

The reason: to enhance the light rail line.

Georgia Gerber, a well-known bronze artist from Clinton, Wash., created the statues. The sculptures were priced at $60,000.

The sculptures have held up well, considering how saturated the area they live in is with people on a daily basis. In the 90s, a bear cub was taken, but after media coverage and public outcry it was quickly returned. They also have been mostly graffiti free. The biggest threat has come from real wildlife: the sculptures get hit with bird droppings.

The bronze wildlife has certainly found a home here.

"I think it helps create landmarks here in the city, and gives importance to space," Lachowicz said.

 


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