efe-epaSao Paulo

About 85 colorful elephant sculptures starting on Tuesday are adorning the streets and public squares of Brazil's largest city in the Elephant Parade Sao Paulo 2017 urban art exhibit.

The open-air exposition is headed by Dutch artist Mike Spits, who was inspired to mount the project on a trip to Thailand when he got to know Mosha, a baby elephant that lost one of its legs at six months of age when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine.

Spits created the exposition to collect funds to be able to buy a prosthesis for the elephant and the project has expanded into other countries.

Elephant Parade is coming to Sao Paulo after the success of the Cow Parade of decorated cow sculptures, which began there in 2005 and since then has been on display in the city that is Brazil's financial heart.

A large number of the life-sized elephant sculptures are concentrated along downtown Paulista Avenue, all of them sporting innovative designs by local artists, about 300 of whom vied with one another in competitions starting late last year to have their designs selected for the show.

Besides the sculptures, which will remain on exhibit until September, Elephant Parade includes assorted paintings on display at some of the city's shopping malls.

The works will be auctioned in October and the money collected will be funneled to programs to save the elephants in different countries, Sao Paulo charitable organizations and the artists themselves.

The exhibition has already toured England, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Denmark, Japan, the United States, China and Singapore, and it made its South American debut in 2015 in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis.