Listen to your Top 10 Rock 'n' Vote 2015 finalists here

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.
Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Adelor sculpture
    Adelor sculpture

    A life-size bronze of Adelor, an African lion that resided at Lincoln Park Zoo.

  • Bruce Jenner interview: My brain is more female than male
    Bruce Jenner interview: My brain is more female than male

    In the 1970s, Bruce Jenner was a symbol of American masculinity as an Olympic champion. Nearly 40 years later, in an extraordinary television interview, Jenner told the world that he identifies as a woman and has felt gender confusion since he was a little boy growing up in the New York suburbs.