Elephants paint at BioPark to raise money

Posted at: 02/05/2013 6:31 PM
Updated at: 02/05/2013 6:44 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Usually when you hear “animal painting” you think of a picture of an animal, not a picture painted by an animal.

The Albuquerque Zoo put the elephants to work today. This fundraiser for the zoo always draws a crowd.

Animals painting Picassos is something you don't see every day, but a couple of Asian Elephants at the Albuquerque BioPark were doing just that. The elephants get to paint about once a month. And anytime the elephants are out doing something, they draw a crowd.

Rhonda Saires is with the elephants every day. They never cease to amaze her.  

"They're painting. They've learned to use paint and canvasses, brushes just like you would. They hold it in their trunk and they stroke up and down. It's behavioral enrichment for them. It's fun for the public," Saires said.

Besides being a crowd pleaser, the artwork the elephants and other animals around the zoo create is sold at the Weems Gallery. That money goes right back to the zoo according to Mary Ann Weems of Weems Gallery.

"I can tell you this from all my years from being in the business that the animal art is comparable to most abstract artist that I've seen. They have a very distinct style and people like it," Weems said.

So far Weems has sold more than 85 pieces to benefit the zoo and its "artists".

"Very distinctive with their brushwork. It's no different than looking at regular artwork by regular professional artists. So people really like it. They love their color choices," said Weems.