RHS flower show animals settle into the zoo

Giant garden ornaments from RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court have been given a second life - in a zoo.

Blending into the surroundings: Gerald the giraffe
Blending into the surroundings: Gerald the giraffe

Gerald the Giraffe (pictured) was last seen at Hampton Court Flower Show towering 3.7 metres over the Growing for Gold show garden created by SW in Bloom’s multi RHS gold medal-winning chair Jon Wheatly. While 2.7m-high Barry the Gorilla, who is covered in shells, was created by Devon artist and businesswoman Fiona Jackson and was part of trade stand at RHS Chelsea.

Now they have been shipped to Paignton Zoo in Devon where they join two other creature sculptures – a painted wooden butterfly left over from a private event held at the zoo and Herbert, a painted life-size gorilla, who is a veteran of the Great Gorillas Project held last summer, when 30 decorated gorillas formed a free public art trail in the area.

Paignton Zoo curator of plants and gardens, Giles Palmer, said: "I’ll admit to being a little sceptical when I heard about Barry and Gerald joining us - I thought they were the Chuckle Brothers. But now they’re in place they do look pretty cool and certainly put a smile on kids’ faces."

But he added: "I don’t think there’s going to be a giant garden gnome here any time soon."

Palmer, former garden and countryside manager for the National Trust's Chartwell Portfolio, manages a team of 15 botanical gardeners, an arborist, cleaning staff and an environmental officer and looks after a wide variety of plants and trees from across the world, as ornamental and botanical types and as habitat for zoo residents.

Paigntoo Zoo sponsored the giraffe sculpture. A zoo representative said the giant garden ornament collection had not been planned but suited the zoo’s reputation as a place for amazing animals.



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