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Thursday, November 19, 1998 Published at 00:38 GMT

World: Americas

Size does matter

UN officials say the sculpture is too realistic

By Jane Hughes at the UN

A sculpture of a bull elephant just installed outside United Nations headquarters in New York is causing minor panic among UN officials.

The life-sized statue is of course harmless, but some officials are concerned that the latest addition to the sculpture garden is, er, too well endowed.

[ image: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the unveiling - a diplomatic speech]
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the unveiling - a diplomatic speech
Weighing in at more than 3,000 kg, this impressive creature was cast in bronze from a real bull elephant that was tranquillised during the process. And though officials are grateful to the governments of Kenya, Namibia and Nepal for the gift, some became rather flustered when they saw quite how realistic it is in every department.

One official even expressed fears that its less-than-private private parts might upset children visiting the UN.

Kofi Annan: "Size humbles us"
At an unveiling ceremony the Secretary-General Kofi Annan was too discreet to comment about the elephant's assets, but there was a distinct note of double entendre in some of his remarks.

"The sheer size of this creature humbles us, and so he should, for he shows us that some things are bigger than we are, he tells us that the earth is not ours but a treasure we hold in trust for future generations," Mr Annan said.

[ image: Sculptor Mihail - Statue should not be touched]
Sculptor Mihail - Statue should not be touched
Among the longer term options being considered is radical cosmetic surgery, but whatever UN officials finally decide to do about their well-endowed sculpture, they have taken the stop-gap precaution of planting strategically placed bushes around its legs.

There has been no comment from the donors of the statue, but the sculptor is said to want the elephant to remain as he is in all his glory.

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