Explaining wildlife in sculptures around Indianapolis, IN

We’re taking you on safari without ever leaving downtown Indy.

Bear on a lamppost with Monument Circle in the background

These creatures are bearing a heavy load.

Photo by INDYtoday team

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Sure, you’ve seen a few bison around town — they used to run wild all over Indiana hundreds of years ago. But why are there turtles hiding under Indy’s lampposts?

Here are six animals you may or may not have noticed during your walks downtown.

Bears 🐻

You might not know this, but the candelabras scattered around Monument Circle were the result of an international design competition, which Bruno Schmitz of Germany won. He implemented bears to represent early Indiana, when bears and bison roamed the state.

Bison 🦬

Speaking of which, next to eagles, you’ll probably find that bison are some of the most common animals in Indy’s architecture. That could be the result of the Bison-Tennial Public Art Project, which celebrated Indiana’s 200th birthday.

Eagles 🦅

We challenge you to count just how many eagles you stumble across downtown, should you go looking for signs of wildlife. They’re a symbol of strength + you can spot them at places like the Benjamin Harrison statue, Monument Circle and the Birch Bayh Federal Building.

Turtles resting under lammposts

Is it strange to pity an inanimate object?

Photo by INDYtoday team

Turtles 🐢

If you look down on the New York Street side of University Park, you’ll find turtles resting uncomfortably under a streetlight. Apparently “long life and stability” are concepts connected to the reptiles.

Fish 🐟

If you’re in University Park, you might see a few catfish + carp swimming in the Depew Fountaincement ones, that is. The fountain was built in 1919 + dedicated to a beloved doctor from the area by his wife. She wanted to honor him with dancing children and fish, which symbolize “endless joy.”

Frogs 🐸

Located to the right of the flags on the front wall of the Columbia Club, this animal is known as a symbol for "prosperity,” which makes sense, considering the club was first established as the Harrison Marching Society to promote Benjamin Harrison for president, who went on to become the 23rd President of the United States.

Intrigued by this little animal journey? On Fri., Oct. 21, Indiana Landmarks is hosting a couple of Downtown Safari tours, where you can learn even more about the critters hiding around Naptown.

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