What do Parisians have against such a noble creature as the elephant?
It has come to my attention that the elephant has been snubbed, not once, but TWICE when it comes to being considered for status as a Paris monument.
As you recall, Napoleon had at one time considered constructing an elephant as the centerpiece for the Place de la Bastille. Instead, we have the Colonne de Juillet topped by Le Genie de la Liberte.
A second elephant had been proposed by Charles-Francois Ribart which would have stood where the Arc de Triomphe now stands. In 1758, Ribert had designed this elephant with three levels, a spiral staircase, and a sort of air-conditioning system and drainage system that ran through its trunk.
Although this plan was turned down by the French government, elephant construction found a better welcome in the USA even if it took a a number of years to catch on. So, if you want to see elephant construction at its best you’ll have to go see Lucy the Elephant in Margate, New Jersey.
Lucy the Elephant is (according to Wikipedia) the oldest example of Zoomorphic architecture and the ‘largest elephant in the world’.
The six-story elephant was constructed in 1882, 124 years later than Ribart’s proposed elephant for the Champs Elysees.
Just think, the oldest zoomorphic monument could have been part of the Parisian landscape. There’s still Les Halles. What about an elephant and a giraffe added to the Parisian?
In the meantime, there is definitely one arrondissement in Paris where the elephant known as Ganesh is warmly welcomed every September. Although this year’s Fete de Ganesh is already finished, you can start getting ready for the 2008 Ganesh Festival by brushing up on your history of Hindu religion. Ganesh is the god who removes or places obstacles at his whim. He is also considered by devotees to represent intelligence.
The Ganesh Festival has been celebrated in Paris’s 18th arrondissment since the early 1980s.