Beloved Palo Alto preschool giraffe stolen | News | Palo Alto Online |


Beloved Palo Alto preschool giraffe stolen

Bronze sculpture was taken over the Labor Day weekend

A bronze giraffe that has given children pleasure for the past 10 years at The Wonder Years Preschool in Palo Alto was stolen over the Labor Day weekend, according to school officials.

The 5-foot-tall sitting giraffe, named Gila, was a favorite of the children at the school at 991 Commercial St., said Julie Fernandez, assistant director. When staff returned after the holiday on Tuesday, they didn't notice the sculpture was missing, but the kids -- who would climb and sit on Gila -- did.

"The kids started asking, 'What happened to it?'" she said. "I said, 'I don't know. Maybe it went to the zoo.'"

School owner and Executive Director Helen Szteinbaum said that on the Friday prior to the holiday, she had told some children not to climb up unsafely on the giraffe. They thought that she had removed the sculpture because of the unsafe climbing.

But by Wednesday when it was still missing, staff checked the security cameras and found footage of two men picking it up and carrying it off.

Gila has been at the school since it opened 10 years ago. Szteinbaum said she wanted the children to be exposed to art and selected bronzes representing animal life.

She purchased the giraffe from Ravanelli's Fine Art & Antiques in San Francisco. She chose the giraffe because it represents the most elegant and distinguished creature in the animal kingdom, and it speaks to keeping one's head high, she said.

Szteinbaum purchased a reclining giraffe so it would be safer for the children to climb. She originally paid between $1,800 and $2,000 for the sculpture, which weighs between 90 and 110 pounds, she said. To replace it will cost $4,800, since the artist must make it on special order.

The new sculpture won't be ready for about 1.5 months, she said. If Gila is found, there will be two giraffes in the courtyard, she added.

Fernandez said the school's courtyard seems empty without Gila. The school's 80 children miss the giraffe, and they don't understand why anyone would steal her, Fernandez said.

The sculpture has significant sentimental value.

"There are a lot of memories. Some parents are completely shocked. Some of the older kids, their response was, 'Why would somebody do something like that? That's not OK,'" she said.

Szteinbaum doesn't think it will be easy for the thieves to sell the sculpture.

"The artist is very well-known in the community and he is letting everyone know in his circles that it was stolen," she said.

The sculpture is also obviously from a commercial property and not a house or garden, so people will know it was stolen, she said.

Police are asking that anyone who sees the sculpture advertised or who has information about its whereabouts call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

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5 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:29 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Julie Armitano
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2015 at 11:43 am

Thats really sad.

Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

Bronze scrap gets a decent price, so odds are it is sold, melted down, and has been converted to meth by the perp.

Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Of all the places to break into and steal from Palo Alto, these two knuckleheads decided to go for a statue of a giraffe from a preschool? Please tell me this is satire...

Like this comment
Posted by AllenE
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2015 at 12:41 pm

AllenE is a registered user.

One news story I read on this said that there was a Craigs List offering of a bronze giraffe of the correct weight in the east bay. What happened to that? Did the police follow up that?

2 people like this
Posted by Jerks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm

So sad. Another article also quoted Zach Perrone of the PAPD as saying the perps are not identifiable in the video but that one runs with a distinct gait. Wouldn't it be a good idea to post the video in case someone recognizes the guys?

It would be interesting to know if Craigslist cooperated with police in finding that post for a Bronze giraffe on 9/5.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Wow, that's really low. I hope they can be identified and shown to the public. I feel awful for those poor kids losing their beloved giraffe.

3 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm

p.s. Why couldn't they have taken Go Momma instead?

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 16, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Bronze is 88% copper. Copper commodity spot price is around $2.45 per pound.
I see recyclers offering around $1.40 per pound for scrap bronze.
Commodity prices have actually dropped quite a bit over the past 5 years.
Copper was $4.50/pound in 2011.
Gold has dropped from $1800 to $1120 per ounce; silver $45 to below $15.

I hang out near Go Mama at Sunday Farmers Markets and all the little kids seem really enthralled by the composition. I imagine thieves have cased that bronze, but apparently it's a surer thing to knock over Keeble's or the Maximart Pharmacy. Sad.

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