The most prolific and sophisticated of the animal artists
The most talented of the animal artists are primates. The sign language-speaking gorilla, Koko, is famous for her sensitive artwork, as is her male companion, Michael. Chimpanzees like Congo, who have been raised by people, often grow up with an affinity for playing with crayons just as human children do.
Raccoons are adept at manipulating objects with their human-like hands, these critters from the Hutchinson Zoo in Kansas prefer art of a slightly more abstract nature. Rather than simply using their paws like many other animal artists, raccoons prefer to paint using objects like the sea shells seen here.
With their colorful plumage and dramatic personalities, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that parrots have an artistic side. Just as they can learn to speak, many birds have been taught to use a paintbrush. Needless to say, they’re naturals!
Painting comes naturally to Sammy, a foxhound mix — at least it has since his brush was attached to a rubber bone. His striking use of color speaks with irony against the canid stereotype that dogs can only see in shades of gray. Or maybe he’s just having fun!
Many of the great artists have been known as much for their dramatic personalities (i.e., Van Gogh, Caravaggio, etc) as they have for their art, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sea lions are among the world’s most boisterous animal artists. Seen here at her home in the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Lea the sea lion shows off one her famous flipper prints.
His name is Cholla, and his artwork has been described as having the “fire of Pollock” and the “fixed gaze of Resnick”. Despite the high-minded comparisons, his work is unique — a wholly different species than that of the great masters, literally. Cholla … is a horse. His art has sold for more than $2,000.
Koopa’s art is in such high demand that he actually does custom orders. Seen here, the remarkable reptile has almost finished creating a summer-themed painting requested from an Australian buyer. You might expect an artist like Koopa to take his time, but he’s quite prolific. His pieces hang in 35 of the 50 states.
Handlers at the Denver Zoo were looking for a way to enrich the environment of their resident rhinoceros, Mishindi, when they taught her to paint. Now they can’t keep her away from a canvas. Some of her art has sold at auction for hundreds of dollars, money which has been used to improve her habitat at the zoo.
Dolphins are already known for their complex social and emotional lives, and they’re on the shortlist of animals considered self-aware. Who knew they also had a knack for watercolors? The dolphin seen here is from a sea life park in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province in China, where the animal uses its artistic talents to help disseminate knowledge about the sea and sea life to park visitors.
The pigs tended to go more for pointilism – they weren’t too keen on cubism. We think of them as our little Pigassos
Due to their dexterous trunks, elephants are capable of painting with more detail than any other creature in the animal kingdom apart from primates. Working with zookeepers and handlers, the sensitive beasts have been trained to paint landscapes, still lifes and even self-portraits. Some of the paintings are of such high quality that they have fooled experts at auctions into believing they were crafted by people.