Paper pandas prove more popular than endangered species

By Shih Chih-ju  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Mar 02, 2014 - Page 3

While large crowds flocked to the Taipei City Hall plaza to see an outdoor art exhibition that featured 1,600 paper giant pandas, signs introducing polar bears and the indigenous Formosan black bear attracted little attention.

The cooperative project by French papier-mache artist Paulo Grangeon and the WWF aimed to highlight the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

In the exhibition, only a few visitors stopped to look at the large signs that introduced endangered species, including the Formosan black bear, polar bear, black rhinoceros, Asian elephant, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Formosan clouded leopard, green sea turtle, fairy pitta, farmland tree frog and leopard cat.

In contrast, a large crowd of people waited in line to take pictures with the paper pandas.

Since it opened on Friday, the exhibition of the 30cm high paper pandas have drawn more than 300,000 visitors. After receiving many requests from the public, the organizer set up a photography area in the middle of the exhibition, so that visitors can touch and take pictures with the paper pandas.

However, the figurines began to display chipped paint and dents on just the second day of the exhibition.

Yesterday, 20 figurines were replaced with new ones, only to be replaced again after a morning photograph session in which visitors damaged the pandas’ ears or dropped them to the ground.

Exhibition staff urged the public to handle the paper pandas carefully when taking photographs with them to prevent the pandas from being, what they termed, “injured.”

And with rain expected in Taipei today, bringing the biggest challenge yet to the paper pandas, staff took the precaution yesterday of capping the artworks with wide-brimmed bamboo rain hats.

The city government’s Department of Information and Tourism said that the pandas would also sport clear raincoats and, if heavy rain is experienced, some works would be moved indoors.