Elephant Project Embraces Lions

Pedro de la Cruz Lion Painting to Benefit Wildlife

Pedro de la Cruz’s lion painting | Credit: Courtesy

This season, the Elephant Project teams up with Pedro de la Cruz to auction one of his original paintings to raise money for the creation of a lion stuffed animal. The Elephant Project currently sells two types of plush elephants, Kiki and Tembo, which were created following founder Kristina McKean’s eye-opening trip to Thailand, where she personally witnessed the abuse of elephants. The nonprofit sends 100 percent of their net proceeds directly to elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, Tennessee, and Kenya.

For 2020, realizing that the issue goes beyond elephants, McKean chose to expand into helping stop the exploitation of lions. McKean said the turning point for her was when she was “informed about lions and tigers being drugged so tourists could take selfies and pictures with them.” Frustrated at the big cats’ exploitation, and feeling called upon to help, McKean contacted longtime collaborator Pedro de la Cruz, the artist behind all of the previous Elephant Project creations, including the plush elephants Kiki and Tembo. For this round of fundraising, they will begin by auctioning off an original de le Cruz painting of a lion in the wild. The lion painting is open to bidding on the 32auctions [CQ] site and will be available until December 24th. De la Cruz is also selling 150 signed lion prints.

The money raised with the artwork will then go toward creating a new lion stuffed animal which will be available in the spring, joining Kiki and Tembo (theelephantproject.com/products). Beyond the soft and cuddly exterior, these plush toys are meaningful gifts because they “empower children everywhere to become advocates for animals and our planet,” according to McKean. In this turbulent time, gifts with a purpose are more important than ever, especially ones that directly impact the cause.

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