Tembo Wash Day Returns for 2023!

Tembo Wash Day is back once again this year. Everyone is invited to this treasured family-friendly event where you can help give the Windsor Sculpture Park’s Tembo and the baby elephants their annual bath! Warm soapy water and all the supplies you need will be provided by the Windsor Sculpture Park Conservation and Preservation Team.

Join us Saturday, July 22, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as we celebrate our scenic Windsor Sculpture Park. Known as a “museum without walls,” the Windsor Sculpture Park showcases more than 30 large-scale, internationally recognized works of contemporary sculpture by world-renowned artists as part of an ever-growing public art collection. Tembo Wash Day pays tribute to one of our star sculptures, giving families a hands-on opportunity to join in the conservation and the fun!

A beloved sculpture park gem, Tembo by artist Derrick Stephan Hudson is a beautiful and majestic African elephant guiding her two babies. The name Tembo comes from the Swahili word for “African elephant.” The three elephants, cast in bronze, depict the strength and loyalty of a mother caring for her children. The massive mother elephant stands solidly guarding her youngsters, providing protection and care. Her triangular-shaped ears, sometimes said to resemble the continent of Africa, help to distinguish the subject as an African elephant. Did you know the ears of an elephant are like fingerprints? Each is completely unique and can be used by scientists for identification. ​Weighing almost as much as 80 people or six automobiles, this enormous mother elephant is one of the largest bronze elephants in the world.

The Tembo Wash Day event is part of the Windsor Sculpture Park’s Conservation and Preservation summer program. To maintain the diverse outdoor collection, regular maintenance is necessary because pollution, moisture (rain, snow, mist, humidity), ultraviolet rays, and a variety of other factors are constantly impacting the sculptures and other works. Every piece of public art, monument and memorial has its own particular conservation and preservation needs, and the City of Windsor is dedicated to meeting those needs to ensure the pieces in the collection remain a part of the cultural assets and resources that define and showcase what is unique about Windsor. Each summer season, summer students carry out conservation and preservation work. Working with the Community Services Division, and through the departments of Parks, Recreation & Culture, and Facilities, these talented student conservation assistants assess, document, re-paint, clean and wax the sculptures along our waterfront, as needed, while also preserving other works in Windsor. If you see our student staff members on site at the Windsor Sculpture Park, or elsewhere in the community this summer, feel free to stop and say hello. They welcome the opportunity to talk to you about the process they are following to protect our treasures.

For 2023’s poetry collection, In the Middle Space – Windsor’s Public Art, our unique elephants sculpture was the inspiration for the poem “TEMBO” by local poet Laurie Smith. The poetry collection is a celebration of Windsor’s public art, with 50 poems and stories written by 13 local writers, and was published as part of the City’s Poet Laureate & Storytellers Program. Copies are available for purchase at Black Moss Press, Museum Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum gift shop, Biblioasis Bookshop in Windsor, and River Bookshop in Amherstburg.


“Please join us for this beloved family event! Help us give Tembo and her babies the care they deserve. Grab a sponge, get immersed, and make memories while learning more about the City of Windsor’s beautiful and dynamic public artworks.”
- Salina Larocque, Cultural Development Coordinator – Public Art

More information on the Tembo Sculpture can be found on the City of Windsor website CityWindsor.ca.


by Laurie Smith
Inspired by Derrick Stephan Hudson’s sculpture

i) at the annual elephant bath day

children crawl warm soapy sudsy
likely give them easy names like
jumbo dumbo ellie peanut
slosh buckets scrub behind their ears
ask grownups to reach the too-high places
try to wrap their arms around a leg
ride Tembo’s tusk
and one young girl asks if she’s allowed
to paint their toenails red.

ii) elephant sanctuary

consider the plight of
poor Wanda and Winky,
as old as grandma’s luggage
grand dames of Detroit,
so very far from

they deserve cake and candles
and something better than a cold cement floor,
a modified gymnasium in Ohio,
a dark retirement out of limelight
beyond public accolade,

where they would pace and swing
their glorious trunks in desperate
elephant ennui, wear a path
around the perimeter, a groove as deep
as their last few years of maybe,
these ladies desire the climate of
Texas, California
something more reminiscent

of their Asian beginnings, the warm
early south a best case scenario –

they should have their toes polished
and peanuts buttered,
a deep mud bath,
benevolent loofah-wielding attendants

and they’ll want the company of
other elephants with whom they might
compare zoo notes, circus stories,

iii) Nyumbani


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