Tourism Industry News

260 Elephants on Parade in London This Bank Holiday Monday

03/05/2010 10:47

London (PRNewswire/ -- On Bank Holiday Monday a glorious, colourful herd of "elephants" will trundle onto the streets of London in an effort to raise GBP2 million toward the conservation of Asian elephants and UK conservation charities. Nothing to do with the grey old world of politics - these are elephants, as big as real life baby elephants, glittering with all the decorative genius that some of the country's top artists can supply.

They reflect a different and rather marvelous Britain - all too easily lost beneath the gloom of the debt cloud and the hurry of everyday life. The object of the parade is to help raise money for the conservation of Asian elephants, whose numbers are dwindling even more severely than those of the African elephant, from 200,000 a century ago to a fifth of that population now. To raise money, each of the elephants has been sponsored and will be auctioned.


One of the most popular elephants is likely to be Benjamin Shine's contribution - so much so that arrangements have already been made for it to be covered by a 24-hour guard at its location by the Royal Exchange. Shine, a young artist, has transformed the template into a glossy black taxi, powered by a solar cell so that a sign lights up at night and its eyes turn into headlamps.

Another is a white-coloured elephant beside an enormous bronze flower, also white, by the sculptor Mark Quinn, one of four elephants generously sponsored by the Indian private equity investor Cyrus Vandrevala and his heiress wife, Priya. Quinn recently caused controversy by sculpting a nude of a thalidomide woman for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Rebecca Campbell, the wildlife artist, has created an elegant elephant, painted with flora and fauna such as palm trees and tigers. Rina Banerjee, an Indian artist working in New York, has plastered her elephant, Argus-like, with dozens of eyes. Peter Beard, artistic photographer and conservationist, has created one of the most iconic elephants entitled Mammouth Metaphor.

Also from the subcontinent, twenty-twenty cricket star Lalit Modi has taken a herd of eight elephants which will be placed around Trafalgar Square. Elephants will stand guard over restaurants such as Scotts and the Ivy, thanks to the involvement of restaurateur Richard Caring. One of the most imaginative projects is sponsored by Rowan and Sunetra Atkinson, decorated by underprivileged children being helped by the Kids Company, of which Sunetra is a trustee. Other sponsors have given in kind. Farrow and Ball, for example, have provided GBP50,000's worth of paint. Transporting the elephants to and from studios has fallen to Eco Movers, a young company with a fleet of 12 electric removal vans. These vans will be responsible for taking the elephants to their sites on which they will be displayed in the course of Sunday night: the electric vehicles ensuring that this happens in silence.

While elephants have paraded in Holland and cows - 100 of them - in London before now, this is Britain's first Elephant Parade. Hearing about the Dutch parades - the brain child of father and son, Mike and Marc Spits, who had been moved by encountering a baby elephant in Thailand called Moscha whose leg had been blown off - Mark Shand immediately seized on the idea for his charity, the Elephant Family. Brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, Shand developed a passion for India after leaving Milton Abbey School when he stopped off in India en route to Australia. In 1988, he received a book commission to travel across India on an elephant. It was published as My Travels on an Elephant in 1991. The experience of the 1000km journey awoke Shand to the Asian elephant's plight. In 2002 he founded the Elephant Family to support herds of Asian elephants in the wild.

So go out onto the streets of the metropolis and you will find elephants in Berkeley Square, Hanover Square, South Audley Street; in Notting Hill, on the South Bank; in Greenwich Market and around St Paul's. Each will irradiate their hard-edged London surroundings with a sense of caprice and joie de vivre. The strangeness of the habitat emphasises how far that of real Asian elephants has shrunk. These great animals, which once ranged from China to Thailand, Indonesia, India and across Syria, are now confined to an area the size of Spain. If the Elephant Parade fulfils its mission to become "the world's largest financial support organisation for elephants," perhaps the tragedy of the Asian elephant's collapse can be reversed.

Note to Editors:


Pictures accompanying this release are available through the PA Photowire. They can be downloaded from or viewed at or 

Source: Elephant Family


Contact: Gabby Wickham, Quintessentially Communications, +44(0)7766688890

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