In 2008, Serge Orru, the head of the French section of the World Wildlife Fund, came up with the idea of displaying 1,600 pandas—the number still alive in the wild—at landmarks across the country. Six years, twenty countries and more than one hundred cities later, the pandas are preparing to visit Hong Kong in June.
The pandas are the creation of French artist Paulo Grangeon. Initially a wood sculptor, he became fascinated with the papier-mâché techniques used in Thailand. For the Hong Kong event, Grangeon will create four special-edition pandas that will remain on display after the papier-mâché flashmob relocates to a new city.
The sight of the charismatic animals crowded into urban areas is both enchanting and unsettling—a reminder of how much damage we've done to the environment, and what we still stand to lose.