Lend me your (rhino) ear...

Vincent Van Gogh severed his in a fit of artistic passion. RhinoBeta3107 lost his to drunken revellers - but at least there’s a happy ending to one of these ear-related tales.

RhinoBeta3107 is one of 40 life size painted fibre glass rhinos currently wowing the people of Exeter and the English Riviera in a huge free summer art trail. The public art exhibition is raising awareness for rhino conservation.

In the wild, rhinos have been hunted to the edge of extinction by poachers desperate to get their hands on rhino horn, a material that some people thing - wrongly - has medical properties. It’s not usually the ears they go for.

Sadly, RhinoBeta3107 was the victim of wanton violence when his ear was broken off in the dead of Saturday night while innocently standing outside Exeter Central Station. Artist Mitch Smith, who grew up in Devon, and sponsors the Express & Echo and Hi-Line, were all understandably upset. In addition, there was a huge outpouring of anger and concern on social media, showing just how many people care. One Facebook posting reached 35,000 people.

It was art imitating life - but where Van Gogh cut off his own ear, that of RhinoBeta3107 was removed by an assailant. Luckily, the broken piece was handed in to the Angel pub, just opposite.

Step forward Plastic Surgeon Fine Finishers, nationwide surface repair specialists based in Bovey Tracey. Their heroic finisher Chris Garner - an actual plastic surgeon - repaired the damage, making everything as good as new - an extraordinarily impressive feat.

Watch a video of the repair here

Sadly, Plastic Surgeons have another rhino patient - Glimpses, located in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, was hit on the head, possibly with a brick. Both rhinos had to be removed to Paignton Zoo for TLC – but it’s hoped that the trail will be back to full strength very soon.

Paignton Zoo’s Phil Knowling said: “The artists worked so hard on these rhinos, and so many people want to see them - it’s upsetting for children when they see damage like this. At least we have a happy ending, thanks to Plastic Surgeon.”

Money raised by the trail and by the auction of the rhinos in November will be channelled through Save the Rhino International. The Great Big Rhino Trail runs until Sunday 9th October.

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Published: 5th Aug

Great Big Rhinos finish on a high

Great Big Rhinos finish on a high

The Great Big Rhino Project has come to an end with a successful charity auction that raised £123,000.

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