16 September 2013

Aurora the Animatronic Polar Bear Heads Global Day of Protest to Save The Arctic

We have heard of all sorts of animals landing up in London over the last few years. Many have surmised that it is global warming and its effect on the environment that is to blame for the English capital’s increasingly more unusual and exotic accidental visitors. Yesterday, however, there was no guessing.  Aurora the animatronic polar bear was there quite deliberately and she had her Arctic home and its protection very much on the agenda.

Aurora is the latest vehicle (almost literally) of environmental charity Greenpeace.  Yesterday, supporters marched alongside this three-tonne mechanical polar bear through central London as part of its Save the Arctic campaign.

Aurora near Parliament.   © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace
Aurora passed sedately (well, as sedately as a gigantic polar bear can pass) through Lambeth Palace Road – possibly doing the famous Lambeth during her mile long perambulation.  Her final destination, via the Houses of Parliament, was the headquarters of Shell UK towards which her ire about her habitat was directed.

She was part of a worldwide day of action which called on people in 75 cities to participate in mass cycling events (which included many of the major municipalities of the United Kingdom).  The message was simple enough – Save The Arctic.  A request one might think difficult to deny but one which requires marching, cycling and (as polar bears occasionally do) plodding amiably through the territory of one’s unnatural enemies.

Aurora in central London.   © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace
Aurora was built by the construction company Factory Settings (who designed sets for 2012’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony.  She was designed by Christopher Kelly, aided by Simon Costin.  All told it took 30 puppeteers to navigate Aurora through the streets of London. She certainly turned heads.

As well she might! This test, pictured in September, gives you a real idea (if you needed it) of her enormous size. She was made using reclaimed white goods and fabrics. Her belly, for example, is decorated with recycled parachute silks which give the impression that she is breathing. All told she weighs in at a dainty three tonnes.

Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the US once said “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds”.  Greenpeace certainly know how to ignite that fire and, together with a rather large minority and the help of one gargantuan polar bear, they know how to do it in style.

To sign the petition  to join the millions who believe in protecting the Arctic, create a global sanctuary around the North Pole, and ban offshore drilling and destructive industry in the Arctic - CLICK HERE.

All photographs courtesy of Greenpeace unless otherwise stated.