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Polar bear
Credit: Greenpeace

The sight of a double-decker-bus-size polar bear marionette lumbering past the Houses of Parliament in London before unleashing a glacial roar at oil giant Shell’s HQ was among the highlights of a recent street parade that called for the fragile Arctic to be protected.

The Greenpeace event saw hundreds of people in polar bear and other Arctic-themed costumes walk and cycle over Westminster Bridge and past the London Eye on their way to the Shell Centre, in protest against the oil giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

The London parade was the spectacular highlight of ‘Ice Ride’, a global day of action to protect the Arctic marked by mass cycling events happening in 75 cities worldwide – from Bangkok to Johannesburg, and from Toronto to Mexico City.

Leading the Ice Ride parade past some of London’s most iconic landmarks was Aurora, a five-metre-tall polar bear puppet specially commissioned for the event as a manifestation of the movement to save the Arctic.

polar bear statue
Credit: Greenpeace

The giant bear, which is made of replica and reclaimed ship parts as well as recycled materials, will be carrying in her fur the names of over three-and-a-half million people who have joined the global movement to protect the Arctic from industrial exploitation.

“Oil companies see the disappearing ice as just another opportunity to drill for more of the oil and other fossil fuels which are causing the melting in the first place,” explained Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Sara Ayech. “This is a chance to take action and tell Shell and other oil giants that we don’t want their drilling rigs anywhere near the pristine Arctic.”

A team of 15 puppeteers, including artists who worked on West End blockbuster War Horse, operated the giant marionette from the inside through pulleys and ropes, giving her highly realistic movements.

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