All eyes were above the Fort Worth Zoo on June 1 as its newest exhibit arrived. "Iggy," a 40-foot iguana sculpture by famed Texas artist Bob "Daddy-O" Wade, was flown in by helicopter to its new perch at the Zoo. Iggy is owned by Lee M. Bass and is on loan to the Zoo.
The sculpture has a storied past, having sat watch for 13 years over the Lone Star Café in New York City, a gathering place for performers like Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Albert King and Roy Orbison. When the Café closed, the iguana, which had developed a cult following, was purchased by a Virginia couple who put it on their farm. In 1997, Wade and Dallas financier Monk White bought it back and installed it on Pier 25 in Tribeca, where it garnered a whole new generation of fans. Two years later, Iggy was purchased by Bass, Wade's friend and patron.
"Lee agreed that we needed to keep Iggy on display, but we weren't exactly sure when or where to make that happen," said Wade. Bass purchased the sculpture, and while its new owner discussed the possibilities with its creator, Iggy retired, settling into a barn in west Forth Worth, which would be his home for more than a decade.
When the Fort Worth Zoo broke ground in 2007 on its new herpetarium, the Museum of Living Art (MOLA), Bass and Wade had their opportunity. Given his resemblance to species inside of MOLA, Iggy now had a reason for emerging from retirement. Bass and Wade approached Bass' wife, Ramona, the Zoo's co-chairman of the board. She liked their idea and agreed that the combination of reptiles and art was a great opportunity, so Mr. Bass agreed to loan Iggy to the Zoo if the sculpture could be exhibited for the public to enjoy.
"The idea for this iguana was conceived in Texas, so it's only fitting that it's back here for Texans to enjoy," said Wade.