Mammoth delivery to La Brea tar pits

©ourtesy of Scott Harrison

fakemammothJan. 18, 1967: A life-size imperial mammoth is towed behind sculptor Howard Ball’s 1958 Volkswagen for installation at La Brea tar pits.

In a Jan. 19, 1967 story, Times staff writer Ken Reich reported:

A life-sized model of an imperial mammoth was placed beside the largest of the tar pits in Hancock Park Wednesday, the first of 50 prehistoric animals’ replicas to be installed in the park in a plan to recreate a “Pleistocene atmosphere.” Sculptor Howard Ball, commissioned to do the 13-foot-high, 25-foot-long, fiberglass creature, pulled it to the site from his Torrance studios on a trailer with his 1958 Volkswagen. The 2,000-pound mammoth was then transferred with a minimum of difficulty by city crane to the four small iron platforms upon which it will rest.


A crowd of about 100 persons, including two county supervisors, the head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and members of the museum board watched the installation and heard brief speeches.

Imperial mammoths roamed the Los Angeles area in the Pleistocene epoch of 14,000 to 40,000 years ago. Some became mired in the tar pits…

Ball, the 60-year-old sculptor, said he plans to set to work on a female companion for his $4,300 mammoth immediately. He also plans a baby.

Howard Ball’s three-mammoth installation was finished in 1968.

The photo above, by retired staff photographer Joe Kennedy, was published in the Jan. 19, 1967 Los Angeles Times and the Feb. 17, 1967 LIFE Magazine.

Sept. 1, 1966: Sculptor Howard Ball touches up his 13-foot tall replica of mammoth for the La Brea tar pits. This photo was published in the Sept. 2, 1966  Times. Credit: John Malmin/Los Angeles Times

July 24, 2000: The family of three mammoths by sculptor Howard Ball at La Brea tar pits. Credit: Ken Lubas/Los Angeles Times.

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