FOR weeks they’ve withstood the gauntlet of the tough city streets, subjected to kidnap, vandalism and youngsters sitting on their heads.
The 130 animals of the Jungle City project had their share of scrapes, with one kidnapped by freshers students and others the scene of an alleged heist on Multrees Walk.
Now the menagerie – which have been spread across Edinburgh on display for the last month – can look forward to more sedate surroundings when they go under the hammer to help preserve animal habitats around the globe.
A team of dedicated experts were working through the night at Dovecote Studios re-attaching severed tails and mending broken feet for the major unveiling today.
Staff described the perils of the outdoor exhibit, but also how many residents and visitors had grown to enjoy the display.
Among the best-known casualty was Hornbill Horace, who hit the headlines when he was torn from his plinth outside the Scottish Gallery a fortnight ago.
He was later returned with a note apologising for a “terrible drunken mistake”.
Joe Innes, 24, who is responsible for placing and maintaining the works while on display, said: “There were a few scrapes along the way, including the well-known theft of Hornbill Horace.
“Some of the others included Fragile the Orangutan, who we had to put into Pizza Express for refuge after he was knocked over.
“There was another incident on Multress Walk, where they actually caught a guy on camera interfering with Zipporah the Hornbill, and possibly Tigris the Tiger, who was nearby.
“The nearby security guards apprehended him and he ended up getting arrested.”
Lucy the Tiger nearly lost her tail when “tackled” – despite being placed outside the Scottish Parliament.
The Rangers and Celtic-themed animals had to be placed in the Botanics for safe keeping, while Gerri Halliwell’s pink tiger, the Queen of Everything, was left with “love you” written on the side.
Dan Bucknell, 34, head of conservation for the project, said: “There were a few incidents, which is only to be expected. I can imagine for students a gold hornbill is far more attractive than an orange cone.
“But at the same time people really started to get used to having them around.
“One woman had opened a hotdog stall in front of one and kissed it goodbye when it left. And one of the Starbucks workers on the Mile rushed out when we took that one away.”
The Jungle City exhibition – unveiled today at Dovecote Studios in Infirmary Street – is part of a fundraising auction by the charity Elephant Family.