© David John - Flickr: DavenJohn


A bear necessity: Aurora’s in town

Posted at 9:15 am, September 15, 2013 in News, Outdoor London
Aurora - Greenpeace

Today, a three-tonne, 16ft-tall polar bear named Aurora will rampage through London. We look at Greenpeace’s latest bid to wake us up to Arctic destruction…

Is this another silly stunt that’ll just get lost in the hurly-burly of the city?
No, we think you’ll notice this one. Aurora, named after the Northern Lights, is officially the planet’s largest polar bear puppet. She’s pretty damn big.

Just how big is ‘pretty damn big’?
Well, she weighs three tonnes. She’ll have 15 puppeteers (including some from West End smash ‘War Horse’) and will be pulled along by a team of 30 volunteers. In Londoners’ terms, she’s the size of a double-decker bus – and a lot more exciting.

You’ve obviously never travelled on the N29…
Aurora will be more breathtaking than even that. She was built by Factory Settings, a company that made props for the Olympic Opening Ceremony and a pair of giant Lady Gaga statues for one of her insane live shows. Plus, according to designer Christopher Kelly, she’s been inspired by the ship of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. So she’ll look like ‘she’s been dragged from under the sea’.

Does that mean she’ll be covered in rusty shopping trolleys and used nappies?
That would be taking it too literally. But in true Greenpeace spirit, Aurora is built from reclaimed and recycled stuff wherever possible, including a porthole and navigation wheel from an old boat. Her mouth will open to reveal an Arctic grotto with stalactite teeth. Which, excellently, was inspired by the cave from ‘Fight Club’.

Right – so the first rule of Aurora is that we’re not allowed to talk about Aurora?
Nope, the secret’s out. Aurora’s 1.5-mile central London parade is expected to attract thousands as part of an international day of action against oil drilling in the Arctic.

What’s behind this bear-faced cheek?
This is the latest in a series of Greenpeace events that saw six women scale the Shard: but don’t worry, you won’t be arrested for taking part in this one. Unusually for the eco-warriors, the protest’s legit – they’ve been ‘consulting with the police about the route’. Well, would you fancy getting a three-tonne polar bear into the back of a panda car? Flo Wales Bonner

Aurora’s walk kicks off at noon on Sun Sep 15 at Victoria Tower Gardens, SW1. For route information and to win a chance to sit on Aurora’s shoulders, visit greenpeace.org.uk/aurora.

More giant animals that have invaded our capital

1. Rubber Duck
Giant rubber duck
No, not an escapee from a giant’s bathtub – a 50ft-tall yellow fellow was floated down the Thames last year as a publicity stunt by a gaming website. Quackers!

2. The Sultan’s Elephant
© Sophie Laslett
This mechanical beast stormed through London in 2006 in the capital’s largest ever free theatre show. At 42 tonnes, that trunk packed some serious junk.

3. The Monopoly cat
© Jeff Moore
To mark the arrival of a feline playing piece in the board game, a six-foot mog toured London in July, presumably giving people evils then curling up for a nap.

4. Battersea Power Station Pig
flickr: bexwalton
In September 2011, 35 years since its appearance on the cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’, a 30ft-long inflatable porker once again graced the London skyline.

Check out some animals that made it into the office: it’s Desk Safari!

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