Welcoming visitors from near and far to the Two Oceans Aquarium this holiday season is a beautiful blue rhino covered in African penguins! Not a real rhino, of course, and certainly not real African penguins (those are keeping cool in our Penguin Exhibit). We’re very lucky to be the temporary home of one of nine rhinoceros sculptures that form part of The Rhinos are Coming! – a fund-raising campaign for the protection of rhinos. Since this one features African penguins, we were happy to offer it a place to live for a while.
Campaign founder Janice Ashby was inspired to start The Rhinos are Coming! based on the successes of a similar outdoor exhibition programme, the Cow Parade, that she saw in the USA. “When I returned to Cape Town after living in New York for many years and saw what was happening to our rhinos, I immediately thought that this would be an amazing concept for Cape Town – to raise money to help save our rhinos and bring art and business together in a glorious exhibition,” Janice says.
Did you know? The collective term for rhinos is a "crash".
The penguin-rhino is one of five similar sculptures installed at the V&A Waterfront precinct at the moment, each one’s design unique, and conceptualised and painted by a different artist and then sponsored by either an individual or a business. Our rhino’s patron is Pamela Isdell. As a trustee of the Isdell Family Foundation, Pamela has supported a broad portfolio of nonprofit organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, Peace Parks South Africa, and BirdLife International. In fact, BirdLife South Africa’s new headquarters in Johannesburg is called Isdell House – no prizes for guessing why!
Pamela says she wanted to support this rhino in particular because she “wanted to connect the fact that, along with the rhino, the African penguin is also an extremely endangered species,” she told the Aquarium. “As I am also the patron of the African penguin through BirdLife South Africa, I wanted to show and connect that there are so many endangered species within Southern Africa. This is a great project that will be a great addition to the tourist attractions within the Cape as well as be a great fundraiser for the endangered rhino.”
Knowing that Pamela would want her rhino to reflect her deep passion for wildlife, Janice and her team enlisted internationally acclaimed wildlife artist Peter Clinton Gray. While he was happy to come up with a concept around penguins, he did not have capacity to expedite his design on the rhino. “We then asked Eunice Geustyn, Executive Head of The Ruth Prowse School of Art, if her students might do this work,” says Janice. “She agreed immediately. The students did an amazing job and Peter mentored them when he could.” Frank Coffie, Danielle Jordaan and Helene de Villiers teamed up to paint the rhino.
Janice is now looking for patrons to sponsor another 60 of these beautiful beasts – each one unique – for the city-wide exhibition that’s happening in December 2018. “The project offers businesses, artists, foundations and private individuals a brilliant opportunity to participate in this urgent cause of saving our rhinos,” says Janice. If you or your company wish to learn more about sponsoring the making and paiting of a rhino, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our penguin-rhino will be on display at the entrance to the Two Oceans Aquarium until end-February 2018. Come and say hi!