Controversy over zoo statue
Published Saturday, September 26, 2009 11:48AM MDT
The Calgary Zoo is defending its decision to erect a statue in front of the elephant enclosure.
The statue is a depiction of the elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha.
Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and is often the deity whom worshippers first acknowledge when they visit a temple.
Many people like it but some critics say that the statue does not belong at the zoo.
Concerned Christians Canada says religious statues should not be in publicly funded spaces.
The group wants the zoo to remove the statue or allow other religious groups to place icons from their faiths around the zoo.
"This Ganesh, this elephant figure, that is in fact a god of the Hindu faith, is welcome here because it's an elephant, because it therefore has relation to the zoo, the same could be said for the Christian faith and the manger of Jesus with all the animals coming around Jesus," said Jim Blake, National Chairman of Concerned Christians Canada.
The Zoo says that the statue adds cultural content to the Asian elephant exhibit.
"This is not intended to be a religious symbol," said Grahame Newton, of the Calgary Zoo, "This is a cultural symbol and it depicts the tie between our Asian elephant herd and the Asian culture."
The zoo specifically asked the sculptor to remove the religious symbols and icons normally associated with Ganesha.
The sculptor says that in his opinion the statue is religiously neutral.
The zoo says it will not be installing any religious statues on its property and it won't be removing the elephant statue.