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Longtime zoo favorite returns in bronze

The roar of Adelor, an African lion, was the highlight for many visitors to Lincoln Park Zoo for nearly 18 years before old age hushed his voice in 2012.

On Saturday his roar won't be back but a life-size sculpture of the beloved big cat will be dedicated at the main East Gate entryway of the zoo, officials announced today.

A zoo supporter who wants to remain anonymous commissioned the 1,200 pound bronze from local artists Anna Koh Varilla and Jeffrey H. Varilla, alumni from the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, zoo officials said in a release.

The sculpture is positioned on a rocky outcropping at eye level so visitors can see -- and touch -- his cleft chin and scarred nose.

"Adelor, undoubtedly, had a memorable impact on people," mammal curator Mark Kamhout said. "Zoo guests would often remark that seeing him was a highlight of their visit. They would flock to see him when he began roaring, which happened regularly and often."

After he was euthanized due to old-age complications in February 2012, hundreds of people left condolences and shared memories of Adelor on a memorial page on the zoo's website.

Adelor is only the second animal in the zoo's 145-year history given a similar individual honor, the other being Bushman, a nationally loved gorilla from the 1930s and 40s, according to the zoo.

"It's really special to remember and honor one of our beloved residents in this way," according to Troy Baresel, senior vice president of operations at the zoo. "In life, Adelor was one of our most photographed animals. We hope he will be so again."

The other famous sculpted lions in Chicago, which adorn either side of the main entrance of the Art Institute, had no immediate comment.

chicagobreaking@tribune.com
Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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