Local artist designs life-size giraffe for the Baton Rouge Airport

The 18-foot giraffe statue was brought into the airport in five parts.

You just never know what your neighbors are really up to.

For instance, Steven Dorand’s Destrehan neighbors could have never guessed what the sanding going on in his Ashland Drive yard would be part of – a life-size giraffe statue.

“The 3D concept was developed in Destrehan … and parts were created in shops throughout New Orleans,” he said. “The 3D head was assembled in Destrehan. One of the items was reused fence boards that Ida took down. I sanded them down in the front yard and distressed them to look like an old sign board you would see on an overseas trip. I am sure my neighbors thought I was sanding the boards to fix my fence from the hurricane. You just never know when your neighbor is building exhibits for a themed experience.”

Dorand owns Dorand Design Studios. He and the project’s lead artist Robin Durand were two key players in the recent unveiling of the 18-foot giraffe statue that is now featured at the Baton Rouge Airport.

The sculpture is of Rowan, the zoo’s giraffe. Officials with the airport and the zoo gathered earlier this month to officially unveil the statue, which was sponsored by the Baton Rouge Zoo Foundation. The idea behind the artwork is to attract visitors to the zoo and draw attention to efforts to protect the critically endangered species, zoo director Jim Fleshman said.

Dorand said the enormous sculpture is made of high-density foam coated with epoxy. It was brought in in five pieces and had to be assembled inside the airport’s atrium because of its size – a process that took 12 hours. The sculpture is anatomically accurate to an adult giraffe, something Dorand achieved by taking photos of Rowan. Signage around the sculpture states conservation facts about giraffes and a signpost made from Dorand’s fence.

“We love making things museum quality,” he said. “It looks realistic.”

Recently Dorand’s work has been installed at Audubon’s Cool Zoo Waterpark and Storyland.

“City Park Storyland in New Orleans was one of the most rewarding projects to work on in the last few years … just being part of the reinventing of a park I grew up as a kid and my family,” he said.

Dorand was born in New Orleans and worked with the Audubon Nature Institute for several years. And while his work is featured all over the country – he said the Dallas Zoo is one of his biggest clients – he is happy to employ locals.

“I love using the artisans in the River Parishes and our area,” he said. “We have this lure of being a part of nature … people come to use because they know we’re do things realistically and naturally.”

Dorand said the most rewarding part of his job is working with his team to create unique experiences.

“It’s the challenge of taking an idea and turning it into reality,” he said. “The fun part of my job is being able to create projects for families in places that I grew up going to as a kid.”


About Monique Roth 919 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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