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Elephants and butterflies in the center of London

June 07, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Kitt's blog:
It is beyond awful to be sick in bed while you're studying abroad knowing that everyone else is out seeing the sights, walking in the parks and taking pictures of the elephants.

Yes, elephants.

In a campaign to save the endangered Asian elephant, 258 large representations of them have been installed all across the city of London. All of them were designed by various celebrities or artists. The campaign aims to promote awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant and raise money for conservation. No two elephants are alike, and they’re spread throughout the city, in parks, stations and shopping areas. To learn more about the elephants, visit

London, of course, has sights other than the elephants on parade. Last week, I went to Kew Gardens, which is located in a suburb of London. It’s a conservation garden that contains multiple hothouses and greenhouses, a rock garden, a Japanese garden, and a huge number of other themed garden areas. In three hours, we saw only a fraction of it. One of my favorites was the water lily greenhouse, a small greenhouse that holds a large circular pond filled with water lilies, and small raised watery “flowerbeds” that also held lilies and other water plants.

The other main attraction was a very large conservation building that held a number of rooms meant to illustrate the different environments of the world. Temperate ferns had a room, the flora of the rain forest had a room, and the desert had a room. That’s right: I went halfway around the world and found cactus. Two of the rooms in the conservation house were full of butterflies. Big, gorgeous butterflies were everywhere. To a person like me who loves butterfly houses, it was heaven. The intense, stunning Blue Morpho butterfly, one of the most famous butterfly species, was one of the many different species that I encountered. The three hours at Kew Gardens were some of the best I’ve spent during the whole of the trip so far.

Unfortunately, three hours in a garden can also inflame the sinuses, which is why I've been sick these past few days.

Kathrine (Kitt) Keller, a creative writing major, will be a senior this fall. She is studying abroad in London, Dublin and Edinburgh this summer.