Fleeting Wonders: A Bus-Sized Polar Bear, Powered By Activists - Atlas Obscura
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Fleeting Wonders: A Bus-Sized Polar Bear, Powered By Activists

The newest face at the COP21 climate conference in Paris is snow-white, craggy, and about the size of a small car. 

Aurora, an enormous polar bear-shaped protest puppet, rolled into the conference venue this morning accompanied by human activists from Greenpeace, the Associated Press reports. The bear weighs three tons and is the size of a double-decker bus. A head-turner on its own, it also ensures critical mass—since it’s essentially a giant puppet, about 45 people are required to keep it running smoothly.

This morning, the bear joined other Greenpeace activists in the Le Bourget Blue Zone, where representatives from indigenous groups in Brazil, the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula, Canada’s Northwest Territories and elsewhere spoke on behalf of their communities.

Indigenous peoples “are on the frontline of climate change, and are suffering its first and worst impacts,” said Vyzcheslav Shadrin, there on behalf of Russia’s Yukagir people. “We have a right to be recognized in this international forum.” The Paris climate accord has thus far not mentioned indigenous people specifically. The latest draft is scheduled for release later today.  

The latest in a long line of Greenpeace protest bears, Aurora already has one victory under its ruff. Earlier this year, it hung out next to Shell Oil’s London headquarters for a month, roaring occasionally, until the company announced it would stop drilling in the Arctic. 

Aurora and handlers will stick around through the end of the talks on Friday, and likely join more protests. “We want the bear to represent everyone hoping in the next 72 hours,” for a robust agreement, said Greenpeace UK’s head of media, Ben Stewart. This group likely includes Aurora’s less enormous real-life counterparts, who, due to climate change, are getting even smaller

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.