Busy Highlands Ranch residents might not take the time to notice the various forms of animal art found in their community.
When Town Center was being built, a group of gorillas—yes, gorillas—was erected next to the Target parking lot. “Gorillas were put in the detention ponds because they’re animals that show well, especially when the water drains slowly after it rains,” said John Kilrow, project lead when Shea Homes was developing Town Center. “We wanted something to make people smile.”
Shea Homes used other animal figures when designing Town Center buildings, such as the “drunken monkey” gargoyle on the side of the Old Blinking Light restaurant, right next to Lansdowne Arms. “These gargoyles blend into the buildings and aren’t noticeable until one looks up,” said Nancy Linsenbigler, former president of the Highlands Ranch Historical Society, who recently co-hosted an HRHS Zoom meeting about Highlands Ranch art.
A prominent sculpture located at the entrance walkway to Westridge Recreation Center is the pronghorn, the work of local artist Larry Perkins. Dedicated in 2003, Perkins named his cast bronze sculpture “Tah Keen Cha,” an Arapahoe Cheyenne word for “small pale deer.” Though it looks similar to an antelope, the pronghorn is neither an antelope nor a deer according to Perkins.
“A herd of pronghorns once lived in this area so we decided to memorialize the pronghorns that had lived right here,” said Perkins. When Mission Viejo arrived to develop the New Town of Highlands Ranch, there weren’t any homes or people, just lots of pronghorns roaming freely! These beautiful creatures have a special place in Highlands Ranch history.