“Oh no, Jerry!” The 93-year-old woman in Washington Square Park called out to her husband, who was similarly distraught. I had just informed the passing couple that The Last Three—an installation in nearby Astor Place featuring three bronze, life-sized rhinos piled topsy-turvy on top of each other—was about to be taken down. The anguish was evident on their faces—and mine.
Today the heavens themselves seemed to cry out in pain as rain fell on the gloomy, nearly-empty square where the beloved rhinos once stood. The much-Instagrammed sculpture was removed from its Astor Place abode Tuesday night and transported to a still-TBA location in New York (the Goodbye Rhinos’ website seemed to indicate Metrotech Center in downtown Brooklyn as its next destination).
Australian artists Gillie and Marc Schattner unveiled the colossal installation—hailed as the “biggest rhino sculpture” in the world—in March as an homage to the remaining Northern white Rhinos in the world, whose population has shrunk rapidly due to poaching. With the sad passing of Sudan—the last living male Northern white rhino—earlier this year, it’s down to just two female rhinos: Najin and her daughter Fatu. With no living male, it seems that despite the installation’s best efforts, attempts to resurrect the species will remain in vain. It’s unclear whether the sculpture will be changed to reflect the rhino population’s diminished numbers.
In any case: they’ll be sorely missed here in Astor Place.