A Philadelphia sculptor is trying to rescue one of his early works, a life-sized bronze sculpture of a boy riding an elephant, from inside a defunct New Jersey mall.

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The sculpture, dubbed Petal in honor of the Philadelphia Zoo elephant that served as the model for the piece, is part of a larger fountain dubbed the Water Hole inside the Burlington Center Mall, which closed its last store in September 2018.

Zenos Fruakis, who has gone on to become a successful sculptor with works prominently displayed all over the world, said Petal was his first sculpture in 1982 and he doesn't want to see it destroyed when the mall is demolished.

"We are looking for a home for it. We don't want to see this mall brought down on the elephant. Once it's gone, we want it to survive," Frudakis told WPVI-TV.

He said the property owners have agreed to donate the sculpture to a nonprofit if a new home can be found.

"They would like it to go to a nonprofit -- they won't charge anyone for it. If I had to do this again it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they want to give it to a place where children can enjoy it," Frudakis said.

The artist said that even if a new home can be find there's still one major issue: the cost of relocating the 11-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide piece. He is currently trying crowdfunding to attempt to cover the moving cost.