Elephant featured at 1996 RNC to be displayed in 2012

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 9:17 PM EDT

Hundreds of guests will be checking in to the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina for the Republican National Convention in August.

The first guest checked in on Tuesday, all the way from San Diego: a red, white and blue elephant sculpture that will be on display during the convention.

"This elephant that’s arriving here today was actually featured at the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego," said Jay Goulde, Executive Director of the Outdoor Arts Foundation. "We’ve been very fortunate to be able to acquire it and have it here on display for this year’s 2012 RNC here in the Tampa Bay area."

The 150-pound patriotic piece made the cross-country trek from California. He comes with his own food, drink, instructions and care-taking supplies.

Goulde says the sculpture was purchased from a private collector.

The Outdoor Arts Foundation says a silent auction will be set up, giving guests and attendees a chance to bid on the historic elephant.

The elephant will be a guest at the Marriott through August. The sculpture will be formally unveiled in early August and be on display in the hotel lobby.

The hotel is currently undergoing about $2 million in renovations.

Craters & Freighters helped facilitate the elephant's long journey across country. In addition to donating the Elephant’s journey from San Diego, Craters & Freighters will also be coordinating the Elephant’s departure from Tampa in early September.