Tuskers trumpet conservation in Singapore

Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:57am EST
 
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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - More than 100 elephants, some painted with big "come hither" eyes and others colored bright red, have arrived in usually staid Singapore, congregating at street corners, office parks and even inside some buildings.

It's the Elephant Parade, a collection of 162 elephant sculptures decorated by artists and celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais, singer Leona Lewis and actor Rupert Grint of "Harry Potter" fame -- all in the name of conservation.

"We hope to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant, whose survival in the wild is threatened by habitat loss due to urbanization as well as human-elephant conflict resulting from competition for limited space and food resources," said Biswajit Guha, general manager at the Singapore Zoo, which is also taking part in the event.

The original sculptures, around 1.5 meters high, will be on display for the next two months and in January will be auctioned by Sotheby's, with part of the proceeds going to The Asian Elephant Foundation and the conservation fund of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Similar fundraising efforts have taken place in Europe before, but this is the Elephant Parade's first Asian stop.

For now, many in the stressed and hectic city-state said they welcomed the presence of the light-hearted pachyderms.

"After working in front of a computer screen and looking at lots of numbers, seeing this type of street art kind of makes the other part of your brain do a little thinking," said Richard Bowman, a partner at Ernst & Young.

"I love the brightness of the elephants against what are mostly grey office buildings."

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata, editing by Elaine Lies)