Monumental elephant construction just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Paris, though not for lack of trying.
Charles Ribart first came up with the idea in 1758, designing “L’elephant triomphal, grand kiosque a la gloire du roi”, a triumphal elephant pavilion celebrating the king’s glory (top). Planned for the current site of the Arc d’Triomphe, it would have contained air-conditioned banquet halls and salons and a trunk that spouted a fountain, but the French government wouldn’t fund it so it was never built.
Napoleon had a similar plan for a large bronze elephant to be erected in the Place de la Bastille (bottom); it was never built either, but a 78 foot-tall plaster model was constructed on the site of the former Bastille in 1813. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815, however, support for Napoleonic monuments dried up, and neighbors began complaining in the 1820’s that the model had become a breeding ground for rats; the by now ratty-in-more-ways-than-one plaster construction was demolished in 1846. Only the circular basin the completed elephant was to have stood on was ever completed; the Colonne de Juillet (July Column) commemorating the Revolution of 1830 was built on it instead and still stands today.