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Look out! There are rhinos about!

PUBLISHED: 15:07 02 August 2016

Gina Franchi of Paignton Zoo with rhinos before the Great Big Rhino Road Trip

Gina Franchi of Paignton Zoo with rhinos before the Great Big Rhino Road Trip

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Come and support vital conservation work to save endangered rhinos by spotting life-size painted rhino sculptures in Exeter and the English Riviera.

'Cath' sponsored by Cathedral Financial Management, painted by artist Stephen Dooley. Photo by Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk'Cath' sponsored by Cathedral Financial Management, painted by artist Stephen Dooley. Photo by Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk

A public art trail of over 40 painted life-sized rhinos is the South West’s biggest free art exhibition. The Great Big Rhino Project launched on 30 July and will be available to view until 9 October. Individuals can spot the rhinos in open spaces, parks and streets in and around Exeter and the English Riviera.

Each individual rhino is a demonstration of the wealth of artistic talent found in the South West and beyond, with creations by school and community groups, graffiti artists, professional and amateur artists, film-makers, set designers and more.

The project has been organised by Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in aid of ‘Critically Endangered’ wild rhinos. There are as few as 50 to 60 Javan rhinos left on the Indonesian island of Java, and Sumatran rhinos are scattered in just half a dozen small populations across Indonesia and Malaysia. The decline in their populations is caused entirely by the illegal poaching of their horns.

Organiser Pippa Craddock explained: “Ultimately, it’s about raising money to help Javan and Sumatran rhinos – we’re channelling it through Save the Rhino International to make sure it is well-spent.”

'Invincible' sponsored by Ocean Torbay BMW and MINI, with artist Stuart Wright. Photography by: Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk'Invincible' sponsored by Ocean Torbay BMW and MINI, with artist Stuart Wright. Photography by: Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk

Money raised will be used to support anti-poaching patrols around rhino reserves, habitat restoration to increase the area available for rhinos and support for Sumatran rhinos in captivity to facilitate breeding. The rhino trail raises awareness of the importance of conservation and the need to save these mammals from extinction.

Pippa says: “I really hope that thousands of people will get out and enjoy this free spectacle. This is all about celebration, conservation and collaboration. A lot of people have got involved to make sure it’s a success. The Great Big Rhino Trail celebrates creativity, boosts civic pride, stimulates the local economy and creates a 10-week free fun event for families.”

With the help of the Great Big Rhino website, it’s possible to record the rhinos that have been found and a free map helps to locate them. For those who are lucky enough to find them all, they could win the chance to meet rhinos at Paignton Zoo up close.

Pippa added: “It’s going to be a rhino summer. There are life-size adult rhinos, medium-size juvenile rhinos and small collectible ceramic rhinos. There are rhinos created by schools and community groups and rhinos painted by professional artists. There’s a complete trail in miniature at Babbacombe Model Village. There’s an edible chocolate rhino, a cuddly soft toy rhino, a hi-tech social media rhino and a rhino that lights up at night!”

'Savanna' created by chocolatier Tony Fagan of the Cockington Chocolate Company. Photo by Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk'Savanna' created by chocolatier Tony Fagan of the Cockington Chocolate Company. Photo by Tom Smith/Motiongrafix.co.uk

After the trail ends there will be a grand charity auction at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay on 3 November where each rhino will be sold off to raise funds.

To get a trail map and for more information about the project, visit: greatbigrhinos.org.uk

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