MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo unveiled a tribute to honor Shirley the elephant and her zoo keeper on June 11, 2022. 

A life-size metal statue of Shirley was erected as a tribute to both Shirley, and her longtime caretaker, Solomon James. Zoo officials said they were working on a surprise tribute for James, but he passed away on March 9 before he could see it.

 The sculpture looks just like Shirley with her broken ear, and broken leg; a hat was also added as a representation of Solomon and as a symbol that Shirley is holding on to him. 

Margarette Young, James’s sister, was one of the guests at the event. She said the tribute means a lot to her family and she will always be grateful for it.  

“That’s really neat, I like that. I wanted to break down and cry but I held it in. I try to stay strong because I really miss him, he left us so fast. But I really appreciate what they’ve done. It’s wonderful.”