There is a postcard that Hersheypark has sold since approximately 1970 that shows the Monorail, installed in 1969, crossing over the entrance of Hersheypark and its main feature – the famous Elk statue.
In the background of this picture is something rarely noticed. It is located in front of the entrance of Hershey Park Zoo, the predecessor to ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park. When people think of the statue by the entrance of Hersheypark, people think of the Elk statue seen in the image below. Nobody thinks of the statue at the entrance of Hershey Park Zoo, which can also be seen in this image, highlighted inside a yellow circle.
Unfortunately, you can only see the bottom two thirds of the statue; the top third is obscured by a tree. With the focus of the image being the Monorail and the Elk statue, and the image being relatively dark in the spot where the Zoo statue is, it’s easy to miss.
Fortunately, a few images of the Zoo statue itself has become available over the past three years. Below is a full image of the Zoo statue. It is quite a large statue, probably around 30 feet tall. The character is some kind of animal, with a red hat and a white dove sitting on the hat. The character is wearing a blue and white plaid jacket, a blue vest, red pants, and black shoes. The character is leaning on a cane and holding yellow daisies or sunflowers.
So Many Questions Need Answers
When was this statue installed? The earliest photograph of the Zoo statue dates to 1963. However, it is more than likely the statue was installed sometime in the 1950s, probably no earlier than 1957.
When was the statue removed? This statue was in front of the entrance of Hershey Park Zoo until most likely 1969, when the Monorail postcard image was photographed. The statue doesn’t appear to be in front of the Zoo entrance in 1970. It’s doubtful that the statue was there for the final two seasons of the Zoo – 1970 and 1971.
If you’re not sure exactly where this was at, here is a short clip of the statue from a 1966 video of Hershey Park Zoo.
The character is some kind of animal, though what kind of animal isn’t very clear. Is this a mouse? A bear? A mix of animals? Why is the character using a cane? Why is the character holding two yellow flowers? What is the character’s name? Does it even have a name? Why was this installed? What year was it installed?
Searching through newspaper archives has yielded no results, which is why this subject is left with so many questions to answer.
Do you remember this statue? Can you answer any of these questions? If you can, please reach out to The Amusement Parkives by leaving a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Hersheypark History Group on Facebook.
3 thoughts on “The Statue at the Entrance of Hershey Park Zoo”
Harry, Perhaps it is a whimsical Milton Hershey
I’ve considered that, but there are a few reasons why I don’t think that’s the case. If it were a whimsical take on Mr. Hershey, I think the character would be holding yellow roses. Also, I think the character would be wearing a solid color jacket.
I haven’t entirely dismissed that it could be a whimsical Mr. Hershey, but I’m inclined to think its something different since there’s very little record of this. I think if it were about Mr. Hershey, we would have more records about it.
Maybe it was an early version of a Hershey Bear hockey player that was later rejected? Do you have any info on Union Picnics that were held at Hershey Park? I’ve found newspaper articles starting in 1916 that described the picnics. They show that every business in a town closes for a day so that all families can go to Hershey Park for a weekday of sports, rides, and picnics. The “Union” appears to be a union of churches, as the picnics were organized by local churches. I believe they continued into the 1950s.