BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — A life-sized elephant fountain beloved in South Jersey has been removed from its old home in a shuttered mall and is being restored before settling into a new spot.

"The Water Hole" had remained inside the Burlington Center Mall, even after the shopping center shuttered its doors in September. Now, the property is bound for demolition and redevelopment.

On Friday, the Petal sculpture was removed from the mall thanks to a collective effort of volunteers. Heritage Industrial Services, Hainesport Enterprises, and donor Keith Smith worked together to untether the hulking art from its base and hoist it through the empty shopping corridors.

Outside, they loaded it onto a massive flatbed truck in wintry weather (16 degrees and snowing), before the sculpture made its first trip in decades, to get "cleaned up" a bit.

Watch as elephant statue "Petal" is freed from Burlington Mall, Zenos Frudakis
Watch as elephant statue "Petal" is freed from Burlington Mall (courtesy Zenos Frudakis)

The bronze statue, which weighs in at a ton, was created in 1982 by Zenos Frudakis. The now-notable sculptor was inspired by real-life animals, including longtime Philadelphia Zoo resident, Petal the African elephant.

Arts Guild New Jersey has "adopted" the artwork and will be installing it in some capacity for public viewing. Burlington City is home to Riverfront Park, along the Delaware River, where there's already a distinctive American Bald Eagle statue.

The manager of the non-profit Arts Guild, Derrick Owings shared video on Facebook of the hefty statue being moved from its longtime spot in the shuttered mall.

The GoFundMe campaign and Facebook group efforts spearheaded by Frudakis Studios and Steve Cass also wrote a thank you to the Rotary of Burlington New Jersey and the current Burlington Mall owners, Moonbeam Capital, for joint efforts to preserve the Petal statue for years to come.

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