Fifteen full-size bears arrived in Anchorage over the weekend. They’re not grizzlies or black bears—they’re made of fiberglass and are part of a public art exhibit, much like other animal statues that have been featured in major cities around the world.

Local businesses paid about $1,750 to sponsor one of the bear sculptures and chose artists to decorate them for display.

Artist Jean Shadrach is working on a design for the Alaska Botanical Garden.

“They wanted it to be all the things that the bear eats,” Shadrach said. “I just love to express myself with paint.”

Money raised from the sculptures will support the International Conference on Bear Research and Management.

Elizabeth Manning, an education specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and member of the Anchorage Bear Committee, said the “Parade of Bears” is more than just an art project.

“I think it will be a really great way for people to think about what it is to live with bears and how we can do a better job of coexisting with them, and taking personal responsibility to clean up bear attractants and understand our bear safety so we can minimize conflicts,” Manning said.

The colorful bears will be displayed publicly all over Anchorage beginning at the end of July. Ten will be displayed downtown. Others will be at the Alaska Zoo, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and Alaska Botanical Garden.

KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.