On Sunday, an elephant rode down West University Avenue.
It was a kinetic Asian elephant bike sculpture, built and ridden by local artists Lorraine Duerden and Raymond Rawls. It was specifically created to lead about 50 people in Gainesville’s first Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.
The Conservation Initiative for the Asian Elephant hosted the march, an event that occurred worldwide on Oct. 3 and 4, in an attempt to bring attention to the trouble elephants are facing worldwide.
Ron Chandler, the interim director of sustainability studies at UF and co-founder of CIFAE, said the march is leading up to the conservation’s campaign to set aside a cultural and environmental world heritage site in Northeast India through UNESCO.
"It’s nothing short of a genocide," Chandler said about the Asian elephant habitat loss.
Chants of, "Elephants are big and gray, elephants are here to stay," rang out as the march proceeded down West University Avenue from the Plaza of the Americas at UF to the Hippodrome State Theatre.
Chandler worked with Kira Silverman, a UF psychology senior and the volunteer coordinator of CIFAE, to put on the event, which took about one year to organize.
"I don’t think that a lot of people realize how important elephants are because we don’t see them here every day," Silverman said.
Silverman said losing elephants as a species would have huge impacts on ecosystems and the climate.
"The walk was really inspiring," said Melanie Orejuela, 20, a UF health education junior, who said elephants are her favorite animal. "I liked the feeling of coming together for one cause."
Other marchers included members of Eastside High School’s environmental club, UF alumni and elephant supporters from as far as St. Petersburg.
Silverman said she is glad this event had the opportunity to make an appearance in Gainesville.
"I think that so many people love elephants and think they are wonderful, magnificent, mysterious animals and admire them but don’t know how to get involved with them or do anything with it," she said.