The Great Big Rhino Project is spreading online. Artists, sponsors and fans are all engaging on social media – and so are the rhinos themselves.
Many of the Great Big Rhinos have their own social media profiles and their own emerging personalities. Phil Knowling, from organisers Paignton Zoo: “Some rhinos are naturally female, others male. Their personalities tend to spring from their designs.
“Artists and rhinos have shared photos and time-lapse videos, they’ve started to talk to each other and form relationships! Some rhinos live in a herd, and social media can make that a reality. There’s an extended family of 42 rhinos, their sponsors, artists and fans spread across Exeter, the English Riviera and beyond.”
One of the busiest of the social media rhinos has been Tranquillity (@Tranquility_R), sponsored by Tamar Telecommunications. Tranquillity signed up to Twitter in April and has made good use of the medium, sending over nine hundred Tweets and gathering over a thousand followers.
Plastic Surgeon Fine Finishers and their rhino Hope – @Hope_Rhino – are close behind with 850 followers. Their mini feature film, filmed on location on Dartmoor, has been seen thousands of times and shows how they are seizing the opportunity afforded by social media.
George Brewer, Digital Marketing Manager at Paignton Zoo, said: “So far, 16 out of 42 of the Great Big Rhinos are on Twitter and 4 on Facebook – and it’s building. With the Great Gorillas we had much less social media activity. I think Twitter works really well for this sort of thing – it’s spontaneous and chatty.”
It’s friendly – but there’s friendly rivalry. Once the trail starts, on 30th July, shrewd sponsors have planned competitions and campaigns. The Cockington Chocolate Co. posted images of Savanna the chocolate rhino being made on Facebook, and will be selling raffle tickets to win him.
Meanwhile, the mini version of Paignton By Numbers, sponsored by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company, has been on some railway adventures, photographic evidence of which will appear on Facebook and Instagram during August.
George: “Social media is a great way to stay in touch and share the growing sense of excitement. Artists working on their own can get a bit isolated, but social media means they can stay in touch with other creatives.”
The Great Big Rhino Project is putting a dazzling free public art trail of 40 life-size painted rhinos around the streets, parks and open spaces of Exeter and the English Riviera this summer; in addition, one more will be at Bristol Temple Meads railway station and another at London Paddington. The spectacle is raising awareness and funds to help Critically Endangered wild rhinos.
The Project’s Twitter name is @Greatbigrhinos, hashtag #greatbigrhinos, Instagram @greatbigrhinos, Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/greatbigrhinos/. The Great Big Rhinos will come alive on Saturday 30th July.