playwright // performance maker // public artist // arts organizer

Keke the Mammoth

Keke the Mammoth

Thousands of years after her extinction, Keke the Woolly Mammoth has returned to her former stomping grounds to attend public demonstrations abou. By doing so, she hopes to bring greater visibility to the plight of so many non-human species on this planet who are under massive threat due to the impacts of human-caused climate change. Keke implores all humans – regardless of their political affiliation – to listen to the truthful science that will help them keep their only companions on Earth: animals and plants.

Keke is a large puppet built 90% to scale of a real woolly mammoth, conceptualized by Elle Thoni as a companion project the full-length play Woolly, designed by Christopher Lutter-Gardella of Puppet Farm Arts, fabricated by Alison Heimstead, and operated by a full team known simply as the “Woolly Crew.” Keke’s presence in public space serves as both a warning from the past and a call to the future. As arguably the first human-caused extinction, woolly mammoths represent all that we have to lose in the Age of the Anthropocene. Species are going extinct at an alarming rate, to the point where some scientists fear that we have triggered the “sixth mass extinction” in the history of this planet. Yet, woolly mammoths are also a symbol of all that we have to gain by reuniting our human fate with the fate of all other life on Earth. We are not alone on this planet yet, and Keke is a playful reminder that we don’t have to be if we are committed to valuing everyone who’s already here.

Keke is passionate about connecting social justice movements to work in coalition towards the liberation of all marginalized beings. Keke is a non-binary mammoth. She was named after Keke Collier, a 24-year-old trans woman who was murdered in Chicago on February 21st, 2017. Keke’s cause is more than just political; it is cultural. The Woolly Crew believes that together we can build the world we want to live in: a world where both science and art are seen as essential to happy and healthy lives. Collectively, our efforts can make a mammoth impact.

Special thanks to The Awesome Foundation – Twin Cities for funding Keke’s creation.

You can connect with Keke on Facebook.

Do you want Keke at your event? Please contact me!


Elle Thoni – Conceptor, organizer

Christopher Lutter-Gardella – Designer

Alison Heimstead – Lead fabricator

Eric Hofstead, Allison Osberg, Silas Leasman, Nora Rickey, Beck Rusley, Andrew Young – Assistant fabricators, puppeteers



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