Giant straw squirrel raises controversy in Kazakhstan

By Ben Hooper
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July 11 (UPI) -- A 40-foot squirrel sculpture assembled from straw in a Kazakhstan city is prompting backlash from the public due to its $67,000 price tag.

The oversized squirrel, created by South African sculptor Marius Jansen van Vuuren and British artist Alex Rinsler, was partially paid for with about $43,576 worth of public funds as part of the Art Energy festival in Almaty, which features more than a dozen other artworks.


The sculpture drew criticism from some locals who suggested the public funds could have been put to better use helping cash-strapped locals with medical expenses and other costs, while some others branded the straw sculpture a fire hazard.

The squirrel also has its fans, with some residents saying it brings smiles to the faces of local children.

The artists behind the squirrel, who created a similar straw fox in Shanghai, said the straw sculpture is designed to change appearance as it faces weather and other forces during its nine months on display outdoors.

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