About the Colony

Atascadero zoo needs your help restoring bronze tiger

Susan Beatie’s bronze tiger has welcomed visitors to Atascadero’s Charles Paddock Zoo for 25 years.
Susan Beatie’s bronze tiger has welcomed visitors to Atascadero’s Charles Paddock Zoo for 25 years. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

One of Atascadero’s most outstanding pieces of public art, the bronze tiger at the entrance of the Charles Paddock Zoo, has been there almost 25 years and is now in need of some tender, loving care.

The bronze was created by local sculptor Susan Beatie, who was supported by many individuals, service clubs and businesses. Donations large and small helped fund the creation of the life-size tiger.

So when a 25th birthday celebration is held for the tiger this coming June, Beatie says she wants it to look its best.

To do that, the bronze will have to be removed from its place at the zoo and transported to Genesis Bronze Foundry in Paso Robles.

The piece will be cleaned and polished right down to its original bronze “skin.” Then, a patina will be applied before it’s brought back to its home beside the reflection pool and waterfall just inside the zoo, next to the flock of flamingos. The pond and waterfall were also custom-made to fit the tiger’s presence.

I remember when Beatie was working on the first round of fundraising to underwrite the cost of creating the bronze.

One fundraising event featured a number of local citizens, including yours truly, whom she covered in gauze and a plaster mixture to turn us into statues ourselves. One with an eye for detail, Beatie even covered a camera in the plaster cast that hung around my plaster neck.

I’m not sure how fond I was of it because it looked too much like me. I will say it looks better than the photo that is currently running with this column.

Beatie estimates it will cost about $6,000 to refinish the tiger and have it back to the zoo six months from now.

Monetary donations can be dropped off at the zoo’s gift shop or mailed to 9100 Morro Road, Atascadero, CA 93422. You may also drop off donations at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce office by making out your check to “Tiger Makeover c/o Friends of the Zoo.” Friends of the Zoo is a nonprofit corporation, which makes your donation tax-deductible.

Beatie remembers she spent about 500 hours making the bronze, which is less than the hours she spent studying tigers so it would be an accurate reproduction of that beautiful animal.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.