17 February 2014

Giant Hedgehog Arrives on Clapham Common

The locals close to London’s Clapham Common are used to some odd happenings on their triangular area of grassland situated in the south of the city.  Yet few were prepared yesterday for the arrival of a gigantic hedgehog.  Could this finally be the proof that GM crops are having a rather strange effect on British wildlife?

Not quite: the hedgehog was there to raise awareness of the launch of the second series of David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities on UKTV’s Watch channel.  At 12 foot long and eight foot wide, the seven foot tall structure seems rather at home on the common.  Yet while you might think such an enormous creature might frighten small children it shows how much the hedgehog is embedded in British culture that the local kids have been regularly engaging it in chit-chat since it was unveiled.

However, a survey done by the TV channel has revealed some worrying statistics.  Very few of the children featured here will have ever seen a wild hedgehog and a quarter of the adult respondents to the survey have confessed the same.  Although this may be indicative of the increasingly sedentary lifestyle lived by many Britons, naturalists do point out the fact that hedgehog numbers are dwindling in the country.

The giganta-hog was created by sculptor Andy Billet using a number of materials, including willow and coconut fiber as well as stacks of (naturally, fake) fur.  The hedgie’s spines number almost two thousand, make from soft wood to ensure that the diminutive denizens of Clapham do not poke out an eye in their enthusiasm to meet and greet their latest unusual visitor.

The hedgehog took Billet and his team over two months to create – and you can see the time and effort lovingly spent in the remarkable finished work.  It is larger than a rhinoceros (let's not hope ever quite so rare) but much, much cuddlier, despite those spines!

The new series of David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities starts on Tuesday 18th February at 8pm on UKTV’s Watch. Photos: David Parry/PA