Superhero rhino taking shape
25th January 2016
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Stuart Wright, from Exeter, is building a perfect replica of the famous Iron Man body armour for a life-size rhinoceros.

In a scene straight out of a blockbuster movie, Stuart stands surrounded by tools and materials including fibreglass, polyester resin and carbon fibre.

It’s all part of The Great Big Rhino Project, a major free public art event to raise awareness and funds to help Critically Endangered rhinos. The project, run by Paignton Zoo and Wild in Art, will put a trail of amazing painted rhino models into the streets, parks and open spaces of Exeter and the English Riviera, encouraging thousands of people to enjoy the spectacle.

Stuart’s rhino is called Invincible? and is sponsored by Ocean Torbay BMW and MINI. Stuart: “I’m making armour using EVA foam tiles cut to shape and moulded using a professional heat gun. Each piece of foam armour is secured to the rhino sculpture using a powerful contact adhesive.

“Once the foam is fitted I’ll put on a liberal coat of PVA to seal it and protect it from the polyester resin. Each piece will then be coated in two layers of wet layup fibreglass matting and resin. Once the resin has set, I’ll use car body filler to refine some of the detailing and guarantee a smooth surface.”

The entire sculpture will receive a coat of grey primer before additional materials such as aluminium slivers or carbon fibre film are applied. “Once all the surface items are fixed, the sculpture will be masked off and painted using genuine BMW and Mini paints generously donated by Ocean Torbay BMW and MINI.” Solar powered LED lighting will add a dramatic finishing touch.

The Great Big Rhinos arrive on Saturday 30th July. Money raised will be channelled through Save the Rhino International. Rhinos have been around for 40 million years. There are five species: black, white, greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran. All are threatened with extinction – three are Critically Endangered as defined by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). This means that they will not survive without massive and urgent action. Twitter @Greatbigrhinos, hashtag #greatbigrhinos.

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