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Tuesday, Feb. 27
The Indiana Daily Student

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'Elephant Parade' in London hopes to promote awareness of endangered species

Britain Elephant Art

In 1986, residents of Zurich awoke to find their city covered in lion statues. In 1998, the animals struck again, and residents experienced “Cow Parade” for the first time as local artists decorated 800 fiberglass cow statues and placed them around the city as a public art project. Since then, the “Cow Parade” phenomenon has exploded worldwide, with exhibitions of a variety of different animals and themes seen around the world during the past couple of decades.

This week in London, it was the “Elephant Parade” that descended upon the city, this time not only as a public art project, but also as an effort to raise awareness about the endangered Asian elephant. Author and advocate Mark Shand, who reportedly rode his own elephant across India in the 1980s, is the driving force behind the project, which began preparation and planning last fall.

The installation includes 260 elephants, each of which has been carefully designed and decorated by such artists and fashion designers as Marc Quinn, Tommy Hilfiger and Jack Vettriano. Scattered throughout the city, the displays are accompanied in some places by volunteers canvassing for signatures to petition for government action to deal with the threats Asian elephants face.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are roughly 41,000 to 52,000 Asian elephants left in the world, a population which has fallen significantly since the ’80s. Preserving their habitats helps to save the population from dwindling further, but this is expensive. This is where Shand’s project comes in. The exhibition, which will last through the end of June, will raise public awareness of the issue, and a few of the elephants will actually be auctioned off in a charity event culminating at the end of the display. Proceeds will benefit Asian elephant conservation.

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