A koala statue is seen at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, Australia, March 28, 2019. Fourteen one-meter-tall koala statues decorated by different artists are scattered across the Australian National Botanic Gardens, sitting on the ground for visitors to discover stories behind them on March 1-31. The gardens' visitor experience coordinator Megan Donaldson said that the pop-up statues were aimed to raise awareness of Australian plants and native wildlife. (Xinhua/Bai Xu)
by Bai Xu
CANBERRA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Those who have visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens must have been surprised to find some new members of the park.
Fourteen one-meter-tall koala statues decorated by different artists are scattered across the gardens, sitting on the ground for visitors to discover stories behind them on March 1-31.
The gardens' visitor experience coordinator Megan Donaldson said that the pop-up statues were aimed to raise awareness of Australian plants and native wildlife.
"They are social media-friendly," she told Xinhua. "Each one was chosen based on their story, the location that they are in or their sponsor. All of their stories link to their location or sponsor."
Donaldson took Alira as an example. "The artist Isabell Moran is an indigenous elder of a tribe," she said. Therefore Alira sat in the Red Center Garden showcasing the plants in central Australia with close indigenous connection.
According to Sabrina Sonntag, communication and visitor services officer, pattern on the koala showed indigenous people around campfire, and the "circle of life" is symbolic of Aboriginal culture and relationship.
At the Sydney Region Gully, the Koalatron sat gazing at visitors, painted with the pattern of mechanical gear. "This is what will happen if we don't protect the koalas and conserve their native habitat," Sonntag said. "We will have the robot koala instead."
Another statue Buzzy was painted with 20 bees hovering between native flowers representing each state's floral emblem. Nearby is the bee hotel which provides hollow stems and timber hollows for native bees to make their nest.
Captain Koala bore words which reminded people of all the threats facing the animal, like the loss of habitat.
Donaldson told Xinhua that the idea of having these koala came up when she was preparing for the National Eucalyptus Day which falls on March 23. She found the Port Macquarie's Hello Koalas sculpture project, which consists of 65 statues across the region.
"That is a really great link: koalas and their habitat. So that is where the story began," she said.
A total of 20 koalas were brought to Canberra. Beside the Australian National Botanic Gardens, the rest of the statues can be found in the National Zoo and Aquarium, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and some other areas.
Karen Hennessy and her husband Duane came from Melbourne. They found eight koalas and took photos for each of them.
Karen asked staff with the gardens if they could keep the koalas when the event is over. "People like them. Who doesn't like a koala?" She said. "We should keep them, because this is Australian."