Elephants take over Hong Kong malls

By Alisha Haridasani and Laura Ma, CNNPublished 12th September 2014
Designer elephants have invaded Hong Kong's Pacific Place mall, attracting a stampede of photographers and tourists.
The Elephant Parade, created by Marc Spits in 2006, invites artists and celebrities to design and decorate large elephant statues to be displayed in public spaces.
This year's collection includes pieces from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and local actor Donnie Yen.
The statues were auctioned off on Thursday at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong.
The auction raised HK$2,150,000 ($277,398) for the herd of 31 elephants.
Proceeds will be donated to the Asia Elephant Foundation, whose conservation efforts range from funding hospitals to lobbying governments.
Idea born from a baby elephant
The idea was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Spits was vacationing in the northern Thai city in 2006 when he met Mosha at an elephant hospital.
The baby elephant had lost her front right leg after stepping on a landmine.
"The hospital said it would like to operate on the elephant and give her a prosthetic leg but didn't have the money for that," says Mike Spits, co-founder of the parade and Marc's son.
The first Elephant Parade was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2007.
Since then, the colorful pachyderms have been auctioned off around the world. The herd arrived in Hong Kong's Pacific Place, City Plaza and Citygate Outlets for the first time in August.
Spits says humans are the biggest threat to elephants.
"The speed of human development, particularly in this part of the world, leads to a fight for space," says Spits. "And the elephant often loses that fight."