A well-known Waco couple said Tuesday they are not only donating the first $150,000 toward the “Sculpture Zoo” along Cameron Park Drive but will match other donations dollar for dollar.

At a Waco City Council meeting Tuesday, Clifton and Betsy Robinson came forward as the donors for a public art project that will place at least half a dozen larger-than-life animals along the route to Cameron Park Zoo. Waco businessman Paul McClinton also indicated he will be a major donor.

The project is being organized by the nonprofit Creative Waco, which has received more than 40 entries.

“We were blown away by the submissions,” Creative Waco executive director Fiona Bond said. “We thought we’d be in good shape if we got 20.”

Submissions came from as far away as Australia and as near as Waco, including one for a kinetic sculpture of Mexican free-tailed bats by Stanton Studios founder Bryant Stanton.

Clifton Robinson, an insurance executive, said he would like to see 10 or 15 animal sculptures along Cameron Park Drive as part of this project. A team assembled by Creative Waco has already shortlisted 25 submissions for the Sculpture Zoo, and donors could choose which ones to fund.

“We have big plans for this,” Robinson told the council. “I’m excited about it, and I’m glad the community is, too.”

The Robinsons have funded public art in downtown for years and were the lead donors on the “Branding the Brazos” cattle drive sculpture by the Suspension Bridge. Clifton Robinson said he would like to see both sides of the river “solid with public art,” including the Doris Miller Memorial now under construction.

Mayor Kyle Deaver praised Creative Waco’s work and the Robinsons’ generosity, and others echoed the sentiment.

“It will encourage the proliferation of other ideas for public art throughout the city,” Councilman John Kinnaird said.

The council is set to approve the submissions March 6, and contracts will be signed that month for delivery in the fall.

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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