BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — South Jersey fans of a life-sized elephant fountain are looking to keep the beloved art installation safe by finding it a new home.

"The Water Hole" has remained inside the Burlington Center Mall, even after the shopping center shuttered its doors in September. Now, the property is bound for demolition and redevelopment.

The bronze statue, which weighs in at a ton, was created in 1982 by Zenos Frudakis. He was commissioned to help celebrate the opening of the mall's Strawbridge & Clothier department store. The now-notable Philadelphia sculptor recorded his memories of studying real elephants, including at the Philadelphia Zoo, while creating his artwork. Among his muses was longtime Zoo resident, Petal the African elephant. You can listen in the video below:

Frudakis Studio has agreed to donate the sculpture to a nonprofit. But the hefty sculpture, which measures 12 feet tall and 11 feet wide, needs to secure an appropriate ride to wherever that new home might be.

GoFundMe page set up to collect donations for bronze Petal's travel expenses shared a status update in mid-December. Organizer Steve Cass said, "At this point we can say that a large regional non-profit has shown enthusiastic interest."
The Watering Hole fountain in 'happier times' at Burlington mall (courtesy Steve Cass)

The sculpture has received the National Sculpture Society Henry Hering Art in Architecture Award. The design model also is part of the National Academy of Design Museum permanent collection.

New Jersey does have an unfettered view of another bronze sculpture by Zenos Frudakis. His piece Knowledge is Power has been on display at Rowan University in Glassboro since 2014.

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