Tree-carvers bring out the beasts hidden in Abilene Zoo’s ash trees

A pair of dead ash trees frozen in the crippling cold a year ago might – under normal circumstances – be destined for the chopping block.

But at the Abilene Zoo, it’s more of a circle-of-life tale.

The zoo chose to make something beautiful, lasting and even educational out of the trees lost in the 2021 storm.

“Instead of cutting them totally down, the Abilene Zoo Society board and I decided to repurpose the trees into works of art and conservation messaging,” said Jesse Pottebaum, the zoo’s director.

The work took four days, starting Feb. 16 and ending Feb. 20.

Carving out conservation

Enter Ray Banfield Jr. of Granbury, along with two fellow artists – Jimmy Hobbs of Grand Saline and Justin Driver of Farmington, Kentucky.

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