As part of the special 50th Anniversary celebration of the Safari Park, Longleat has unveiled a new monumental Lion sculpture in front of Longleat House.
The lion sculpture, which is 8 metres long and 4.3 metres tall and weighs almost 3 tonnes, was created by sculptor, Bruce Little in the Western Cape of South Africa and is his biggest sculpture to date.
The casting of the piece was facilitated by the Strand branch of Sculpture Casting Services, in the Western Cape. They are the largest, highly specialised fine art foundry in Africa and are one of the few places able to cast sculpture of this size.
Once the piece was complete, it was crated and lifted by crane into an open top container which was then transferred onto a container ship which set sail for the UK on February 23rd.
The sculpture arrived in the UK on March 11th and continued its careful journey to Longleat, arriving on Wednesday, having travelled more than 8,000 miles to reach its new home.
The Lion sculpture will be situated in front of the iconic stately home on the Longleat Estate and is sure to be an unmissable reminder of the origins of the Safari Park, towering over five times the size of full grown lion.
Ceawlin Thynn, chairman of Longleat Enterprises Limited, said: “When we first considered the concept we could not have envisaged such a fantastic sculpture, that is so in keeping with Longleat’s heritage.
“While this piece was made specifically to mark the 50th anniversary of the Safari Park, it is our intention to commission another bronze lion sculpture which will also become a permanent resident on the estate, alongside the real lions of Longleat.”
Opening 50 years ago, the Safari Park was the first park of its kind outside Africa and today continues to capture the imagination of over a million visitors a year.
Bruce Little said: “I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome, it is an honour and a privilege to have been awarded this opportunity to do a lion sculpture of this scale, with Longleat as its home.
“I cannot have hoped for a more appropriate setting and am sincerely grateful to all those who have made this possible.
“It is my hope this sculpture will be a beacon of hope for the conservation of not only lions but all creatures great and small and their habitats.“This bronze sculpture will be on this earth for thousands of years let us all help ensure that lions will too will exist as long.”
The 50th anniversary celebrations will run over the year and consist of an array of events, starting at Easter with the unveiling of three major events; Live Easter shows with Ben Fogle and Kate Humble; a photographic exhibition by wildlife TV presenter Simon King; and the launch of Longleat’s very own lion shaped hot air balloon.
Throughout the rest of 2016, Longleat will also host a special performance by Sir Elton John in June and a number of public events hosted by Ceawlin and Emma, Viscount & Viscountess Weymouth.
For further information on Longleat please visit www.longleat.co.uk