IT promises to bring the wow factor to Southampton next summer.
A herd of brightly coloured life-sized rhinos will be popping up in streets and parks across the city to boost business and create an unforgettable day out for families.
Marwell Wildlife has revealed its plans for Go! Rhinos, a “world class” mass public art event which it is bringing to Hampshire to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.
Similar events have already proved a massive hit in other cities across the UK and now it is hoped that businesses, charities and community groups across the Solent area will join their charge and help turn Southampton into a rhino haven for ten weeks next summer.
Joining forces with Business Solent, Wild in Art and Southampton City Council, Marwell Wildlife hopes to see more than 40 rhinos pop up in the city, creating a spectacular trail through streets and parks, attracting thousands of visitors.
Andrea Mullins, from Marwell Wildlife, said: “I think having something like this, which has such a strong community focus, will definitely be a big ‘wow’ for the city next summer.
“After the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics this year, this gives us all something to look forward to in 2013.”
From Go Penguins in Liverpool to Wow! Gorillas in Bristol, the projects have attracted a huge amount of visitors to the cities involved, increasing footfall and awareness for businesses taking part and raising thousands of pounds for charity.
Businesses are being asked to sponsor a rhino sculpture, which they can then choose to decorate with one of a variety of designs put forward by local artists.
Schools will also be encouraged to get involved by buying their own smaller sculpture, which the children can paint while learning about conservation.
The rhino has been chosen because of Marwell Wildlife’s commitment to African rhino conservation.
When the sculptures are auctioned off at the end of the ten-week project that money will go towards supporting both this and other conservation projects as well as a local community charity yet to be chosen.
James Cretney, chief executive of Marwell Wildlife, said: “It’s going to be fun. These are iconic, majestic animals that will bring a sense of civic pride which will see tourists visit parts of the city they may have never been to before.
“We know from the examples of where it was successful that it has boosted economic prosperity, raised the public profile of those businesses involved and with the auction at the end, raised some extra money that will go towards conservation.”