From now until mid-January, Chiang Mai is experiencing a stampede of colorful elephants through the city. To be specific, 89 elephant statues, painted by notable figures ranging from famous artists to Khloe Kardashian, are scattered around the northern tourist town.
The elephant statues are not only cute, attention-grabbing and a great excuse for selfie-taking, they are also created to raise awareness for the plight of Asian elephants.
Asian elephants are endangered and the biggest issues facing them are the loss of their natural
habitat, ivory poaching and human-elephant conflict. There are less than 50,000 Asian elephants left and, in the last century, their habitat has shrunk by 95 percent and their population by 70 percent. If this trend continues, elephants will become extinct in 30 years.
Elephant Parade, which has happened in 21 cities around the world over the last decade, aims to raise both awareness of this issue and money to aid the elephants.
Notable people who have been involved with Elephant Parade include: Alice Temperley, Bryan Adams, Elizabeth Hurley, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jim Thompson Design, Katy Perry, and Sir Richard Branson. Millions of people around the world have visited the attractions and 1,350 artists have submitted painted elephants, helping to raise millions of dollars for elephant conservation.
The life-size, baby elephant statues have been exhibited in international cities from Bangkok to London in order to raise awareness for the need for elephant conservation. During and after the events, limited edition, handcrafted replicas and a wide range of related products are created for people to buy as gifts and souvenirs and as a way to help raise funds for elephants.
The cheerful statues take over cities and force you to notice, them, the organizers hope this will get visitors thinking about elephant issues as well.