You’ll find these utterly charming animal statues outside the children’s play area at Parque España.
In 1970, the National Institute for Child Protection (INPI) decided to restore public parks and gardens by adding playgrounds. Sculptor Alberto Pérez Soria created the “game sculptures,” a series of animals emptied in bronze for the city park. In an act of corruption, the government asked Soria to raise the cost of his designs so that those involved would keep a share of the money allocated for the project. Soria refused, the government gave him some plasticine for the design instead and never contacted him again.
One day the animals began to appear at the playgrounds, based on the idea of Soria, but without giving him any credit. Although the original designs included a gorilla, a bear, a hippo and a swan, the new INPI designs saw the birth of a bison, lion, camel, giraffe, fish, and a bighorn sheep. Only in recent years has the history of the original models been revealed and are now exhibited at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art.
The paintings on the animals have changed every six-years and it’s still possible to admire them in many parks across Mexico. The best-preserved examples of these models are in the Bosque de Aragon and the Toriello Garden in Tlalpan.
Take a look at them while they’re still around to be viewed. The park itself was first established in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. Try to look in the park for the tree that commemorates its inauguration, marked by a marble plaque.