A New York sculptor named Mihail Simeonov has claimed a world's first...
GV Elephant being chased by helicopter and trucks
GV Elephant running through bush as Landrover and helicopter pursuit (3 shots)
GV and SV Elephant with drug dart in leg. (2 shots)
SV Soldiers look on as elephant falls to ground and trucks and people advance (2 shots)
SV Dental mould being mixed
SV Elephant being covered with dental mould be sculptor Mihail
SV Mihail covering elephant's truck with mix and other members covering body (2 shots)
SV Cast being out and lifted from elephant by Mihail and aide (2 shots)
SV Dog PAN TO elephant lying on ground
GV Elephant turned over by ropes attached to truck
GV Helpers on truck PAN TO doctor injecting reviving drug into elephant
GV Helicopter flies overhead to awaken elephant, which gets up and moves into bush (4 shots)
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Background: A New York sculptor named Mihail Simeonov has claimed a world's first... making a cast of a live elephant. On Wednesday (19 March) Mihail -- that's his professional name -- slapped forty thousand dollars worth of dental mould over a drugged bull elephant in the wilds of Kenya. The five-ton elephant revived quickly, and now Mihail will cast ten bronze replicas of the mould and sell them for a quarter of a million dollars each, with proceeds going to wildlife conservation projects.
SYNOPSIS: We pick up the story with the elephant already drugged -- with a tranquillising dart in its leg. A veterinarian of the Kenyan Game Department, Dr Ishtiaq Chawdry, has shot the beast at almost point plant range. This happened only yards from the main gate of Ol Pejeta Ranch, a sprawling beef and dairy farm on the Laikipia plateau some twenty miles (32 kms) from the slopes of Mount Kenya. The owner of the rance, Saudi Arabian oil billionaire, Adnan Khashoggi, had allocated some of his workers to the elephant hunts, including a former white hunter.
The startled elephant rushed for two and a half miles (4 kms) through the bush. It took twenty-five minutes for the drug to over-power its strength, and it collapsed in an area of thorn scrub. Mihail's team, delighted that they had come across such a fine specimen so easily, moved in to begin this unusual contribution to art.
Mihail prepares to smear the stunned elephant with the quick-drying dental mould alginate, then begins lathering it over the grey bulk. While the job was done, Dr Chawdry constantly monitored the elephant's condition. The animal's welfare was paramount, with the team containing the head of Kenya's Anti-Poaching Unit, Mr Ted Goss, and the Aberdare National park warden, Mr Phil Snyder.
It took them two hours to baste the elephant, then cut the rubbery composition, and peel it off. Mihail had approached the project in a business-like manner, even forming a limited company in New York -- Cast the Sleeping Elephant Project Incorporated. In one promotional handout, he said one of the elephant's duties in the project would be to apply for tax-deductible status -- but the beast had no time fore this beforehand.
The most difficult moment came when Mihail and his assistants had to turn over the prostrate elephant to mould its second side. At their first winching attempt, the rope broke, but the job was accomplished.
When the mould was removed, Dr Chawdry thrust a needle containing a stimulant into the elephant's rear. Everyone backed off rapidly, fearing the rouses elephant might behave violently. In fact, it took him half an hour to revive, and he wandered away sedately into the bush, with white patches on his hide. Within four months, Mihail will make a fibre-glass model from the cast, then begin his replicas in quarter-inch-thick bronze.