SA sculptor's epic lion roars into UK

19 March 2016 - 12:18 By TMG Digital

South African wildlife sculptor Bruce Little has created his largest work for the 50th anniversary of Longleat Safari Park in the UK.

Image: Handout

His lion sculpture‚ which is eight metres long‚ 4.3 metres tall and weighs almost three tons‚ was cast in bronze at Sculpture Casting Services in Strand in the Western Cape.

It is the largest‚ highly specialised fine art foundry in Africa and one of the few places able to cast sculptures of this size.

The completed sculpture was crated and lifted by crane into an open-top container which set sail for the UK on February 23‚ the Frome Standard reported.

It reached the UK on March 11 and arrived at Longleat in Wiltshire on Wednesday. It will be placed in front of the park's stately home‚ towering over five times the size of a full-grown lion.

Ceawlin Thynn‚ chairman of Longleat Enterprises‚ said: "When we first considered the concept we could not have envisaged such a fantastic sculpture that is so in keeping with Longleat's heritage.

"While this piece was made specifically to mark the 50th anniversary of the safari park‚ it is our intention to commission another bronze lion sculpture which will also become a permanent resident on the estate‚ alongside the real lions of Longleat."

Little‚ who is based in the Eastern Cape‚ told the Frome Standard: "I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome. It is an honour and a privilege to have been awarded this opportunity to do a lion sculpture of this scale‚ with Longleat as its home.

"I cannot have hoped for a more appropriate setting and am sincerely grateful to all those who have made this possible.

"It is my hope this sculpture will be a beacon of hope for the conservation of not only lions but all creatures great and small and their habitats.

"This bronze sculpture will be on this earth for thousands of years. Let us all help ensure that lions too will exist as long."

Longleat's 50th anniversary celebrations will also include the launch of a lion-shaped hot air balloon and a concert by Sir Elton John.