Elephant charity hopes for jumbo cash boost

A group of 13 life-sized willow elephants have packed their trunks for a two-week stay beside the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park to raise money for a conservation charity.

One of the Elephant Family
One of the Elephant Family
London-based charity Elephant Family, which commissioned a Suffolk craftsman to undertake the huge tusk of weaving the animals, expects to raise between £200,000 and £250,000 from the venture.

The money will be spent on buying land to preserve an ‘elephant corridor’ in southern India. The purchase will be overseen by fellow conservation organisation the World Land Trust, whose patron, David Attenborough, is also endorsing the initiative.

A spokeswoman for Elephant Family said that although regulations forbade any fundraising in royal parks, businesses were allowed to sponsor the elephants for a minimum of £10,000 each.

The charity will also be hosting a party on Sunday 16 September to coincide with the start of London Fashion Week, during which blankets designed for each elephant by famous fashion designers will be auctioned. Replicas of one of the blankets will also be sold in department store Selfridges.

A proportion of the money raised will be shared with the Royal Parks Foundation, which has helped Elephant Family with fundraising initiatives and the considerable logistical problems associated with putting the elephants in place. That money will be spent on planting trees to improve native wildlife habitats.

A spokeswoman for the Elephant Family said it was the first time the four-year-old charity, which had an income of just over £300,000 in 2005, had “got out there publicly”. The charity has even launched a dedicated website to publicise the willow elephants, which will feature a daily blog to which members of the public can contribute.

The charity is planning to take the elephants on a tour of another six British cities next year.

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