Artist: Roberta Kelly
"... The mouse Bitsy was made possible through a grant by the First National Bank. The bank held a contest to name the limestone mouse for children under the age of 12. The prize was a $500 savings account. Three-year-old Kristin Madsen of Hood River won the contest after submitting the name Bitsy. Her entry was selected from approximately 2,400 entries by a three-member panel of judges made up of 1979 Rose Festival Queen Rochelle Anderson, Portland Police Chief Bruce Baker and former NBA basketball star Herm Gilliam.
When Warren J. Iliff became director of the Oregon Zoo in 1975, he wanted to make it:
magical place for children to learn, wonder at, and experience the
world of animals."
With that goal in mind, Iliff began collecting animal sculptures that he thought would give children the opportunity to indulge their imaginations.
His legacy can be seen today when children play in the Warren J. Iliff Sculpture Garden across from the elephant barn at the Oregon Zoo.
Iliff knew that, "for some children, to touch or hug a live animal would be a frightening experience, while for others a fantasy lion to be brave around will help them identify with the animal and their feelings about it."
The sculpture garden is a way for children to experience animals in an environment that is not intimidating, and allows them to use their imaginations to develop their interest in the animal world. In doing so, the zoo becomes the magical place that Iliff hoped it would be ..."