Don’t worry.

The capitals of Europe and Asia are safe from thundering herds of pachyderms; it’s only their representatives that have been storming two major continents. Indeed, one of the reasons for the faux-elephant invasion is that the majestic animals themselves are disappearing in droves.  As a result of poaching, accidents and loss of habitats, the number of Asian elephants has plummeted from 250,000 at the beginning of the 2oth century to somewhere between 20,000 to 40,000 today.

Art for a Cause

Enter the Elephant Parade, a series of art exhibits in public spaces that debuted in 2007 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands —  home to its founders, Marc and Michael Spits. After each exhibit, the elephants — created from different fiberglass templates and painted in distinctive styles by a variety of artists from around the world  — are auctioned off and a percentage of the proceeds are donated to the Asian Elephant Foundation. More than 4 million euros have been raised since 2007.

An American Girl Goes to Copenhagen

The Crown Prince of Denmark, Camilla Parker Bowles’ brother, a tony Copenhagen department store… all are part of the fascinating story that Sona Mirzaei, the only American artist to be represented in this elephant extravaganza, told Mary Haight for this week’s podcast on Animal Cafe. It’s a tale of American boldness and ingenuity, a woman seeing something she loved and grabbing hold of it by the trunk. As it were.

Collaborating and Painting in Public

Even more than learning how to work collaboratively with a good friend, Danish artist Per Hillo, Mirzeai had to get accustomed to painting in public, in this case at Copenhagen’s upscale Illum department store.

While trying to concentrate on her work, she explained the symbolism of the Triumph of Unity, as their elephant was called, to the crowds that gathered to watch the artists adorn the life-size baby elephant with the star of David, the star and the crescent, the yin and yang sign… Measuring five by six feet and painted with pastels and gold leaf, it was nicknamed Bianca because… well, just listen to the interview, and find out where Bianca is heading next.

Obsessed by Elephants

I’ve already mentioned my fondness for bats; someday I’ll discuss my deep and abiding interest in camels. But right now I’m fixated on the elephants, hundreds of them, on the Elephant Parade site. I’ve posted two of my favorites here. I probably could have chosen at least a dozen more. So that I won’t be alone in having spent more time than I care to admit ogling elephants on the internet, I’ll ask you: Which ones struck your fancy? I don’t have a prize to offer for your comments; the joy of contemplating these wonderful images will be its own reward.

I can think of a lot worse ways to spend your time. Remember, this is art — and for a good cause.

9 thoughts on “Elephants Invade Europe, Southeast Asia”

  1. This is so interesting. I love elephants too…and in the last few weeks, I’ve come across beautiful photos of them or people have pointed out websites of santuaries or documentaries. What does this mean? This is a cool project and an artistic way to raise funds. I like the “Apsara” elephant (for the angel meaning) and the “Aboriginal” elephant (for the colours).

    1. Hmmm… there is definitely an elephant in your room 😉

      It’s just occurred to me that I will now spend a good part of today looking at elephants again as I go over to the Elephant Parade website and check out the choices that people have made!

  2. After about 30 minutes of wandering through the Elephant Parade, I cannot make up my mind. I love the idea as a way of raising awareness and money for endangered elephants. Thanks, Edie, for drawing attention to the cause.

    1. Yes — I was thinking that too. We had ponies in Tucson and I saw cows somewhere else but they just stood around looking cute, not doing anything for their fellow ponies and cows.

  3. I adore elephants and bats too! And we would do well to think more about them both, as both face serious threats. Thank you for reminding us of our wild friends.

    1. Thanks, Kirsten. And thanks for the shout out in your terrific No Kill and Conservation post. I’m going to comment there too!

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