The unveiling of a Sylacauga White Marble block has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today. Mayor Sam Wright and students from Indian Valley Elementary and Pinecrest Elementary schools will attend, at the invitation of the zoo.
Michael Gilbert, supervisor of group reservations and curator of fun, said Monday the block will be displayed in the children’s area.
“The whole children’s area is very Alabama themed,” Gilbert said. “Over the years we have slowly started adding officially recognized state items. For instance, it is natural to have the state bird, which is called the Northern Flicker. But folks in Alabama usually call it the Yellowhammer.”
Zoo staff sought out a piece of Sylacauga Marble, which was declared the official state rock in 1969. Other state items on display include the longleaf pine, the state tree, and peach trees, the official state fruit tree.
“We went to the city of Sylacauga in order to look at some marble and see how big of a piece we wanted, how much would it cost, how much would it weigh and how much it would cost to ship,” Gilbert said. “In the process of doing that the mayor and the city of Sylacauga said, ‘We are going to get it for you and we are going to get it to you.’”
Wright credited the owners of Alabama Marble for supplying the stone, and said local sculptor Dale Liner will also donate some of his work. He said the addition of Sylacauga Marble to the zoo will serve as a way to get the city’s name out to people.
“(The zoo) is a very big attraction for Alabama, especially this area of Alabama,” Wright said. “We think it is a good opportunity for some positive public relations and I am anxious to see how it fits in overall with Birmingham Zoo.”
Gilbert said in addition to adding to the zoo’s decorum, the items could also serve as a teaching tool.
“It is an educational facility, so it made sense to do stuff like that,” he said. “(Today) will be the latest addition to our state recognized items.”
Contact Matt Quillen at firstname.lastname@example.org.