A parade of wild beasts will soon march down Cameron Park Drive in bronze, steel, stone and concrete. But they’ll need a little help to do it.

Creative Waco has released renderings from two dozen finalists in its “Sculpture Zoo” competition, and the results run the gamut of figurative and abstract styles. Artists from around the country have proposed bats, giraffes, meerkats, wading birds, rhinos, gators and, heading up the rear, a Galapagos tortoise.

The renderings featured here are tentative and could change in subject matter but give an idea of the diverse styles of the prospective artists.

Despite their diversity, the entries share a spirit of playfulness, whether it is a baby elephant tumbling on the grass, bats riding the wind or orangutans goofing off. And Creative Waco officials expect the sculptures will inspire playfulness in children and perhaps adults who will want to interact with the animals along the road between Colcord Avenue and the Cameron Park Zoo entrance.

Exactly how many animals will join the parade depends on how many donors step up. Local philanthropists Clifton and Betsy Robinson have pledged $150,000 to the project and offered to match other donations one-for-one. The Robinsons and Creative Waco will host an open house for prospective donors April 5. For more information on contributing, contact Creative Waco at info@creativewaco.org.

The expected average price for the sculptures is $30,000 to $35,000, but some are much less, so it is possible every entry could be funded, Creative Waco Executive Director Fiona Bond said. Bond said she would love to see a riverside menagerie.

“For a sculpture garden, having a relatively high density is what makes it work,” she said.

The shortlisted artists include two from Waco: Stanton Studios owner Bryant Stanton and Baylor University art associate professor Robbie Barber. Dallas-based artist Dan Brooks also has a Waco connection, having played football under Baylor coach Grant Teaff.

Stanton’s idea is a kinetic sculpture of Mexican freetail bats, revolving in the wind on reed-like metal stems around the base, clinking together as they move.

“When I read the call for submissions, the Mexican freetail bat popped into my head,” Stanton said. “I thought about my own property, where we’ve built bat boxes to attract bats. I think of all the good bats do. The bat boxes were a project I did with my son, who got into woodworking when he was in school, and he went on to be a woodworker with us. There’s a lot of good stuff associated with bats for me.”

Regardless of who is chosen, Stanton said the Sculpture Zoo will inspire generations and send a message to the world about Waco.

“I think Waco has matured enough to see value in art,” he said. “Only good things can come from a competition like this. … To adorn Waco with interesting artwork, it’s going to make people’s experience coming to Waco more memorable.”

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.

Recommended for you