After roughly two months of absence, local artist Susan Beatie’s bronze tiger sculpture returned to the Charles Paddock Zoo, looking shiny and new after being restored by workers at Genesis Bronze in Paso Robles, the foundry where it was first cast more than 25 years ago.
Over the years, weather and time left the statue’s patina damaged and worn away, but workers at Genesis Bronze were able to fully restore its original luster.
The statue was scheduled to return at the end of February, but was delayed due to inclement weather.
As a crane operator from Bob’s Crane Service — the same company that placed the tiger 25 years ago — lowered the tiger back into place on Thursday, March 2, Beatie watched with a big grin, saying the statue looked even better than it did when it was brand new.
“I think he looks better, I really do,” she said. “They used some different techniques, which after 25 years you should have some new techniques.”
When the statue was originally created, the last detail to be added was the tiger’s black stripes, which Beatie painted on herself. This time, however, the stripes were added first and were burned into the sculpture by workers at Genesis Bronze.
“They used a blow torch to do it this time and I didn’t think I was quite up to that,” Beatie said. “I just went out and pestered them and spent a lot of time watching.”
This time around, the final detail added was the tiger’s eyes. The bronze of the eyes, the toenails and the back of the ears were polished back to their former glory, shining a magnificent gold.
The 1,700-pound statue was originally attached to a steel plate cemented underground and was disconnected from the plate when the tiger was removed. Beatie said that this time the tiger will be cemented into place, but won’t be reattached to the steel plate.
“This is a whole new setup,” she said.
The total cost of the restoration was $6,000 and the Friends of Atascadero Zoo are still collecting funds to help pay the foundry. Donations are tax deductible and can be dropped off or mailed to the Charles Paddock Zoo at 9305 Pismo Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422. Be sure to mark your donation “Tiger Makeover.”
The zoo will host a welcome back party for the statue some time later this month. Questions should be directed to City of Atascadero Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish at 470-3490 or by email at email@example.com.