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Columbia, South Carolina: Car Wash Tribute to Happy the Tiger (Gone)

A tiger named Happy lived at this car wash until 1974. She eventually died, and the car wash, with its tiger tribute, was demolished in November 2023.

Directions:
At Constan Car Wash. East side of downtown, on the south side of US Hwy 76/ Gervais St., just west of Harden St. and the train tracks.
Hours:
Car wash demolished Nov. 2023.
Status:
Gone

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Car Wash Tribute to Happy the Tiger

The car wash was demolished in November 2023.

[Lisa A Gayle, 01/07/2024]

Happy lived at the car wash from 1964 to 1974, when Columbia finally built a zoo.

Happy the Tiger display.

Car Wash Tribute to Happy the Tiger

Exxon Mobil's local mascot Happy the Tiger has two walls dedicated to her. She lived from 1964 to 1979, born in Chicago and brought to live in Columbia, SC that same year, transportation provided by Marlin Perkins of TV's Wild Kingdom. She was one of the first animals purchased for Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. She was exhibited at the Gervais Street car wash, Richland Mall Exxon and various parades and festivals.

Her biography and pictures are at the Constan Car wash on Gervais Street.

[Terry Fiedor, 09/02/2009]

Happy was purchased as a cub by O. Stanley Smith, who owned a car wash and Esso gas station in Columbia. He hoped that the tiger would inspire the city to build a zoo (And it didn't hurt that Esso's corporate slogan at the time was "Put a tiger in your tank"). For the next ten years Happy lived at the car wash, in a special cage, until the zoo finally opened in 1974.


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