The world's most magical creatures won't be found in your local pet shop or petting zoo. Cats and goats? They're commoners outside of occasional internet stardom. If you want to know where to find more mystical creatures in Dallas, you need a guide.
You can't turn to medieval bestiaries (encyclopedias of mythical beasts) like Physiologus, the Aberdeen Bestiary or even the magical textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Comprehensive though they are, these tomes don't carry even a passing mention of the Woofus, a beast exclusive (as far as we know) to Texas.
We've compiled their information here, for your own adventuring convenience.
Creatures of the Dallas Arboretum
Not content to be a haven for beautiful flowers, the Dallas Arboretum has long been the home of oversized creatures. Some, like the large amphibians in the aptly-named Toad Corners, are innocent enough, as they are enchanted to do nothing but spray water. The giant wooden ant that guards the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden is a more intimidating sight, though it is a gentle enough beast that young visitors can climb on top of it with no fear.
8525 Garland Rd.
These shiny, metal behemoths are made from chrome automobile parts. The beasts are fashioned after dinosaurs -- a 20-foot-high Tyrannosaurus rex and 32-foot-long stegosaurus and triceratops -- and were created in the mid-1980s by Chicago artist John Kearney.
For years they fell under the custody of a man named Dale Fortner, who trusted their care to the Dallas Museum of Natural History until 2005. Now, they loom over Ripley's Believe it or Not in Grand Prairie.
601 East Palace Parkway, Grand Prairie
Many are aware of the menacing Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings, but they assume they are safe from its gaze, as Texas is far from the supposed historical location of Mordor. It would be wise for those people not to forget the ocular giant that is "Eye." The never-blinking eyeball keeps constant watch across the street from the Joule hotel, its gaze unwavering as pedestrians walk by. There is comfort, perhaps, in the fact that the Eye is ground-level, rather than atop a tall tower.
Created in 2007 in Chicago, "Eye" has glared at Dallas since 2013.
The "Eye"'s sculptor, Tony Tasset, has insisted in interviews that his three-story creation has no meaning whatsoever. But when someone constructs a 30-foot-tall copy of their own eye, it's only natural to wonder if it is secretly a magical scrying tool.
1601 Main St.
Five Hammering Men
It's unclear what invisible things these men are hammering. We only know that they have been at their job for a very, very long time.
Currently residing in NorthPark Center (where they are on loan from the Nasher Sculpture Center), the 14 1/2 foot-tall men are anonymous silhouettes with motorized arms that can continue hammering all day long. Did a vengeful god curse them to this fate, or are they merely dedicated to their craft?
According to a 1985 Dallas Morning News story, the men elicited apprehension and a small amount of fear when they first appeared in Dallas. One young boy is quoted as telling the men, "Don't chop my head off."
One shopper suggested at the time, "They're kind of surreal. I was a little scared at first."
According to the NorthPark website, then men's creator, Jonathan Borofsky, says, "The Hammering Man is a giant, and it goes back to my childhood. I liked to sit on my father's lap and have him tell me giant stories -- especially about friendly giants. The Hammering Man is also a worker, and I idolize the worker in myself ... At the same time, it seems that the boring, monotonous repetition of the moving arm implies the fate of the mechanistic world."
8687 North Central Expressway
Because somebody decided that the giraffes God made weren't tall enough (they can grow up to 20 feet in height), the entrance to the Dallas Zoo is lorded over by a giant, 67-feet tall giraffe. It was created in 1997 as a landmark for passing highway drivers.
At the time of its "birth," the giant giraffe was touted as the tallest statue in Texas (it now faces competition from the 72-foot Tuong Phat Quan Am sculpture in Sugar Land), and it remains one of the tallest in the United States.
Were the giraffe to come to life and try to conquer our city, if would be hard to topple. Its metal base is designed to withstand 100-mph winds, and each leg of the beast alone is 25 feet long.
650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway
Sometimes called the "Flying Red Horse," Dallas' neon Pegasus initially took to the skies in 1934. It was placed on top of the 29-story Magnolia Building and was, for awhile, the highest point in Dallas' skyline.
In 1999 the Pegasus, weary from age, came down from its perch and was replaced with a facsimile. The original creature seemed to vanish into the ether, hiding from humanity's reach for more than a decade. It took an Indiana Jones-esque treasure hunt to locate the original beast, and a sacrifice of $200,000 was made to restore it to its former glory.
Many shops and companies have taken their name or other inspirations from the red Pegasus, which also serves as the logo for Mobil Oil (now part of ExxonMobil).
The original Pegasus, its wings tired despite a new coat of paint, flies much closer to the ground than it used to. It can be found in front of the Omni Dallas Hotel.
555 S Lamar St., Dallas
In the 1980s, six giant, polyurethane frogs sat atop the Tango nightclub at 1827 Greenville Ave. in Dallas.
Now, that address is a Taco Cabana, but three members of the original amphibian band have returned home.
Created by Bob "Daddy-O" Wade and originally commissioned by Tango owner and Dallas restaurateur Shannon Wynne, the frogs soon left the short-lived nightclub in 1984. They were purchased at an auction by Carl Cornelius, who kept them at his truck stop, Carl's Corner. A fire in 1990 forced him to sell some of the famous frogs, and that's when the family was separated.
The sold half of the sextet were bought by the restaurant chain Chuy's and toured Texas for awhile. They have since been renamed the Bongo Frogs.
The remaining free Tango Frogs have since found their way back to the original Greenville Ave. location, where they stand in front of that Taco Cabana.
1827 Greenville Ave., Dallas
Teddy Bears of Teddy Bear Park
The most gentle of the creatures in this bestiary, the four permanent residents of Lakeside Park (often called "Teddy Bear Park") are merely giant versions of popular children's toys -- albeit less fluffy. These teddy bears are an example of artistic magic used for good.
The sculptures were a gift from the Harlan Crow family. Crow commissioned the 10-foot-tall bear and three 4-foot-tall cubs from Vermont sculptor Jerry Williams in the early 1990s. They are are said to have been inspired by similar sculptures seen in the popular New York toy store F.A.O. Schwartz.
4601 Lakeside Dr., Dallas
The Woofus is an amalgamation of six animals that most children are familiar with. This creature has the head of a sheep, the mane of a stallion, the horns of a longhorn, the body of a hog, a turkey's tail feathers and the wings of a duck.
While no Woofus has been seen eating in the wild, its sheep head leads scientists to believe that it is a herbivore. For this reason, as well as a lack of reports that would indicate otherwise, the Woofus is assumed to be non-dangerous, despite the fact that parts of its being that were borrowed from less docile creatures.
The first Woofus was discovered in 1936 at the Texas Centennial, when a statue of the creature was placed in front of the Swine Building in Fair Park. The statue remained for only a short time before it mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Rumors have spread that the statue was stolen (and perhaps destroyed) by a religious group who feared the Woofus was too close in appearance to a pagan god, but such records are not well-researched enough to be trusted.
The world forgot about the Woofus until the late '90s, when the Friends of Fair Park (notably their executive director, Craig Holcomb) saw the creature in old photographs and decided that it should be commemorated again.
During this period, "Woofus Believers" gathered together yearly for fundraisers in an attempt to re-create the lost creature. They even created a song, recorded in the pages of The Dallas Morning News by Alan Peppard:
"Oink quack neigh/oink quack neigh/that's what he says/oink quack neigh/goes on for days/we all believe what we want to believe/when we hear oink quack neigh."
A fire destroyed the mold of the first attempted re-creation (which makes one wonder if some greater force is adamant about the creature remaining in the shadows), and in 2002 a new Woofus statue was finally installed at Fair Park, where it remains today. The concrete and bronze tribute to the unholy creature weighs 3,000 pounds.
In Fair Park (1121 First Ave., Dallas) in front of the Swine Building, on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Four terra cotta wyverns -- dragon-like creatures with two legs -- stay perched atop the historic Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture. They are said to symbolize strength, power and endurance.
While two of the four winged beasts are original (built along with the building in 1892), the other two were removed in 1967 and reconstructed in the 2000s, according to the Old Red Museum.
100 South Houston St., Dallas