I’m not sure what it is about Toronto’s financial district, but it seems well on its way to building its own menagerie, in the figurative sense. We’ve got the cows in the TD Centre’s courtyard, and now, we’ve got elephants parading through Commerce Court. Maybe after hours of mind-numbing number crunching, even financial analysts, lawyers, and other business people need a reminder that there is a wider world beyond their very narrow field of stocks and bonds, puts and calls? I’m sure nothing shakes up an accountant like looking up from their food court salad and seeing a mother elephant with two babies in tow marching towards them.
The mother in question is Tembo. She and her two calves make up an installation located in Commerce Court West, on Bay Street. From the shape of her ears, she is a native of Africa and her ancestry is reflected in her name; Tembo is the Swahili term for elephant. She was cast in bronze by sculptor Derrick Stephan Hudson at Toronto’s own MST Bronze foundry. The statue is massive, full sized in fact, with Tembo standing a whopping 9 feet, 1 inch high and 16 feet long. In fact, she is one of the largest elephant statues in the world, weighing as much as 80 adult humans or six automobiles.
It took six people (including Hudson) a year to create Tembo and her babies. She is composed of 31 individual pieces of bronze, each reinforced and then welded together. The reinforcement is important because Tembo was originally meant to be climbed on and played with.