E.T. the walrus will never be forgotten, but Tacoma zoo officials still want visitors to interact with his memory.
That’s why The Zoo Society is raising funds to create a bronze statue that will sit outside the front gate at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
“We want this sculpture to be a hands-on piece,” Deputy Director John Houck said. “Our visitors will be able to touch and interact with it as they connect more closely with the Pacific walrus species.
“We hope it will inspire our community to think deeply about the actions we all can take to help walruses and other marine mammals in the wild.”
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E.T., 33, died last year after struggling with arthritis and other problems. He never woke up from a surgery needed to drain an abscess.
The walrus came to Tacoma in August 1982 after he was found in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay without his mother.
He quickly worked his way into the hearts of Tacoma residents by waving his flippers and making a range of sounds from whistling to thrumming like a bell.
Officials have not yet chosen an artist to create the life-size statue of E.T., which will portray the popular walrus’ signature wave.
Funding is estimated to be $130,000 and will come from community donations, The Zoo Society and the Metro Parks Tacoma Public Art Program.
“E.T. was a well-loved member of our community who delighted and inspired us for over three decades,” said Larry Norvell, executive director of The Zoo Society. “We are pleased to lead this effort to fund a sculpture celebrating E.T.’s life and his contribution to our community.”
The Zoo Society already has sold more than 130 T-shirts and sweatshirts with E.T.’s likeness on them, raising $2,010.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Donations for the E.T. statute can be made at bit.ly/2g9w95B or by calling 253-404-3651.