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CSU bags cougar statue

Anyone looking for a life-sized mountain lion shouldn't have any trouble spotting this one.

It's bronze. It weighs 270 pounds. It's 2 feet tall and 5 feet 3 inches long. It tops a hunk of granite 9 feet long, 6 feet wide and 2 feet thick outside Columbus State University's Lumpkin Center.

The sculpture by wildlife artist Jesse Homoki of Prescott, Ariz., bears the color of a real cougar, said Terry Norris, CSU's associate vice president for academic affairs. The statue cost $13,000, he said.

The cat commemorates CSU's 50th anniversary, and funding for that celebration paid for the statue, Norris said. "Thirteen thousand was a bargain for this quality of art," he said. When the university solicited proposals for a symbolic cougar, what it got ranged from "the abstract to the monumental," with the higher prices running $50,000 to $300,000, he said.

According to Homoki's Web site, www.bronzecats.com, the mountain lion is from an edition of 10, the first created for Pioneer Park in Arizona's Yavapai County. Reportedly it looks realistic enough to startle other animals.

"I've heard stories of people's dogs stopping and barking, and of horses that stopped in their tracks," the artist wrote. "I'm told that people driving on the road have to do a double-take to reassure themselves that it is indeed a bronze statue, rather than the real thing."

Some Columbus-area residents have been looking for the real thing, believing that cougars still prowl the Chattahoochee Valley.

In reference to a recent hoax e-mail reporting that a 260-pound cougar was hit by a car at Fort Benning, Norris joked that anyone hunting for cougars ought to see this one. Installed Thursday, it's just to the west of the Lumpkin Center entrance, where lights will illuminate it at night.

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