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Statue of Hippopotamus Begi, Symbol of June 13 Unveiled in Mziuri

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
A sculpture of hippopotamus Begi, who escaped the Tbilisi Zoo during the June 13, 2015 flood in the capital, was unveiled by Tbilisi City Hall yesterday in Mziuri Park, a recreational area in the city center of the capital. The event was attended by the Mayor of the capital Kakha Kaladze.

“Today is partly pleasant, because a statue of a behemoth was unveiled, who was walking in the city on a difficult day, standing on his knees in a city that was unhappy. We decided to place this statue in Mziuri Park. I wish there to be always a lot of joy, happiness, and success around this statue. To have total strength for the people living in this city and every citizen of our country.” Kaladze said.

According to the Tbilisi City Hall, commissioned by Georgian sculptor Erekle Tsuladze, “the stainless steel monument has been produced using modern technology”, and comes following a competition for a sketch of the sculpture, dedicated to the events of June 13, 2015. The competition was announced in 2019 and was open to both Georgian and foreign authors or a group of authors could participate in it with the status of a natural or legal person.

The winning sketch was selected by a 12-member commission set up by the City Hall, which included representatives of the art sphere, and commemorates the hippopotamus that gained recognition from photographs of the flood published by international media.

The flash flood turned into the city’s worst human and infrastructure disaster in decades, claiming lives of 21 Tbilisi citizens as well as numerous animals from the downtown Zoo, which lost half of its animal population.

Kaladze, together with the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili and the Chairman of the City Council Giorgi Tkemaladze attended the funeral of the victims of the June 13 disaster on Chabua Amirejibi Highway and laid a wreath at the memorial. Officials expressed their condolences to the families of the victims, emphasizing that June 13, 2015 was the hardest morning for the capital.