Drusillas Zoo Park, near Alfriston, said the theft of the sculptures, which sit on the roundabout at the entrance to the zoo and was designed by local schoolchildren, is believed to have happened in the last four to five days.
The topiary installation depicting a giant group of meerkats, penguins and lemurs was unveiled in March 2022.
The project was a collaboration between National Highways, Drusillas Park, and Alfriston School, with children asked to submit drawings of what they wanted to see on the roundabout.
Managing director Cassie Poland spoke of her team’s sadness at the crime.
“It is utterly dreadful to learn that someone would steal something that was meant for the community. The children involved in the project will be heartbroken when they hear that something they worked hard on, and were really proud of, has been taken away from them.
“The roundabout sculptures bring smiles to the faces of local families driving past and we know that the children from Alfriston School especially enjoyed seeing their creations proudly displayed for all to see.
“We believe the theft took place in the last four to five days, and on inspection of the area it appears that the metal bases have been sawn or cut to remove the sculptures, so it feels like this was planned.”
The zoo is offering a reward of four annual memberships to anyone who provides information that directly leads to the return of their property.
“We are now appealing for those responsible to come forward, do the right thing, and return our stolen meerkats, either directly or anonymously – we just want to see them returned,” said Ms Poland.
Agrumi Topiary Art described the process in creating the custom pieces.
“The sculptures were all constructed from Agrumi’s custom-built workshop in the New Forest,” a spokesman said.
“Our head topiary artist firstly created the metal armature forms by carefully bending lots of pieces of metal by hand into the shape of each animal. Then, the whole workshop team worked to cover these forms in artificial foliage. This is a slow process as each section of foliage is correctly cut to size to suit the shape and angle of the animal’s features.”
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This notice was published: 2023-11-01 13:25:00