As it turns out, the Myer Melbourne Windows are not just for Christmas. While walking through the Bourke Street Mall just recently, I noticed a bright and colourful display. It wasn't about clothing or a promotion for the latest homewares that could be purchased from the store. It was a exhibition of four elephant sculptures and featured the works of some major Australian artists.
With trunks lifted, these happy pachyderms had been put there in advertisement of the celebrations to mark the 150th birthday of the Melbourne Zoo. Between Friday, August 10th and Friday, September 21st, a herd of 50 elephants will be displayed across key locations on the Melbourne city streets, with the ones in the Myer Melbourne windows giving just a taste of what is to come.
The sculptures were modelled on 'Mali', the baby elephant who enjoys recognition as the first born at the Melbourne Zoo. Individual examples had been vibrantly painted by artist David Bromley, well-loved children's book author and illustrator Grahame Base, the Australian Bush Babies Collection creator Elise Martinson and there is even one elephant that has been painted by Mali herself.
The Melbourne Zoo teaches its seven elephants to paint as it is important for the intelligent giants to have stimulating activities with which they can exercise their minds. Some of the elephant art goes onto be sold as well, the profits of which help to contribute towards in maintaining their extensive enclosure and also to support world wide elephant conservation.
This is what happens when you give a paintbrush to an elephant
Yet to come is the 'Carnival of the Animals' performance which, during October will see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra perform at the zoo. Noni Hazlehurst of playschool fame will narrate the piece and tickets are already available for adults ($33.00) and children ($16.50) respectively.
In November 2013, the Melbourne Zoo is expecting the arrival of a brother or sister baby elephant for Mali. The enormous baby will arrive after a twenty-two month gestation period inside its mother the Asian elephant 'Dokkoon'.