Bad floods in July 2021 tore an elephant stone sculpture from its anchoring in the river Wupper in in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

The artwork weighed 3.5 tonnes and was 1.8 metres tall

To rescue the statue and place it back on its plinth, Wilden Kran-Vermietung used a Liebherr LTF 1045-4.1 truck mounted telescopic crane. The stone had been carried several metres downstream by the floods. 

The crane hoisted the artwork, weighing 3.5 tonnes and measuring 1.8 metres in height, out of the water and put back in its original position in the river below the Wuppertal suspension railway.

Stainless steel pins were inserted so that the sculpture could be hoisted back onto the plinth.

The work took place at night so as not to disturb traffic on the railway, and so that the power in the rails could be switched off to not interfere with the crane.

To provide the sculpture with greater protection in the future, the crane inserted several quarry stones upstream in the river to reduce the water pressure on the sculpture.

Commemorating history
The stones commemorate the town’s history and support oxygen enrichment in the river

The sturgeon stones, designed by various artists, decorate the river to commemorate the town’s history, as well as supporting oxygen enrichment and catching dead wood.

The project was started in April 2019 with ‘Lucky the Salmon’, which was to celebrate the successful restoration of the once-dead industrial river into a liver waterway full of fish. This was followed in 2020 by ‘Tuffi the Elephant’.

The elephant artwork was created to commemorate when an elephant was being transported on the Wuppertal suspension railway for publicity purposes for a circus in 1950 and broke free through the external wall of her cabin, jumped 10 metres and landed unharmed in the river.


Receive the information you need when you need it through our world-leading magazines, newsletters and daily briefings.

Sign up