Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Sandy Strickland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Sandy Strickland

Article excerpt

Byline: sandy.strickland@jacksonville.com

Sue Howden's two children adopted a camel to honor her memory. But this 118-year-old camel probably isn't what you'd expect.

It's a porcelain figurine at the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine that had been in storage for about 40 years because of damage to its legs and feet. Titled "Camel and Rider," it's part of founder Otto Lightner's original collection. It dates to circa 1900 and was made by Amphora Porcelain Works in Teplitz, Austria. Lightner, by the way, died in 1950 and was buried in the courtyard just outside to the entrance to the museum at 75 King St.

Brinton Hevey and Elise Batchelor, Howden's children, donated about $1,100 to restore the figurine as part of Lightner's "Adopt an Artifact" program. Howden was a volunteer at the museum who ran the front desk on Wednesday afternoons until her death in 2015. Colleagues fondly remember her for being an assertive authority who always wore her favorite amber earrings.

Aware of her passion for the museum, her children went to

Lightner's website on the anniversary of her death, found out about the adoption program and decided to fund the restoration. The figurine was restored by Luba Sokolina, an internationally renowned porcelain and ceramic expert, at Luel Restoration Studio in New York last summer.

Many of the museum's collections also have been "adopted" by donors. "Camel and Rider" remains on display in the museum's personal collection.

Here's more good news:

Now that they've gained enough weight, Rocky and Jaggar will make their public debut this weekend at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. The Sumatran tiger cubs have spent the last 11 weeks in their behind-the-scenes nursing den with their mother, Dorcas, growing from 4.5 pounds to at least 20 pounds each, zoo spokeswoman JJ Vitale said.

Keepers gave the cubs a chance to check out the exhibit before their big debut and were pleased with how smoothly the transition went. Rocky and Jaggar were exploring their large enclosure, practicing their pouncing and having fun chasing Mom, Vitale said. The stream in the exhibit has been lowered to a point the cubs can safely splash in the water.

It is especially endearing to watch the interactions the cubs can have with their father, Berani, while in the public viewing areas, she said. In the wild, cubs would have limited contact with their sire, Vitale said. Thanks to the innovative design of the tiger trail system, she said, the cubs are able to see and smell their father.

There will be limited viewing hours based on how well they adapt to their new environment. At less than 3 months old, they still get tired easily and need to spend time nursing and resting, she said. From Saturday through Wednesday, visitors can go to the website at jacksonvillezoo. …

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