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Did you know that two of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Elephants can paint?

Whilst neither is yet a Rembrandt or Monet, they are definitely well on their way to being recognised as the most artistic animals in the Zoo!

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to four Elephants - three Asian Elephants and one African Elephant - two of which can paint!  Both, Gigi, the Asian Elephant and Cuddles, the African Elephant have learnt to paint as part of their training program as well as providing them with an ongoing enrichment activity.

Cuddles, who’s been doing brush paintings for quite some time, is very particular about her paintings and always looks like she is concentrating very hard.

Gigi, has recently learnt to do brush paintings.  Every morning Gigi has to soak her feet for about twenty minutes to treat an ongoing problem with her nails. She is a very active Elephant so occupying her for twenty minutes can be quite difficult. Learning to paint has provided great focus for her energy during that time.  Gigi really seems to enjoy painting and is always keen to put brush to canvas in the morning.  Her painting technique continues to improve with every artwork and keepers are starting to see a Picasso in the making!

The Elephant paintings are colourful abstracts that definitely portray the warm nature of these animals.  The paintings are also a very popular souvenir item at Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Zoofari Lodge where guests meet the Elephants as part of their overnight experience.

Elephants are very intelligent animals that enjoy learning new behaviours and acquiring new skills.  Both Cuddles and Gigi get a lot of enjoyment out of painting which provides both them and their keepers with an enriching experience!

The Elephant painting activity is just one part of a special care program which aims to keep the Zoo’s older Elephants active and stimulated both physically and mentally.  This task, along with enrichment items such as toys, logs and tyres, are made available to the Elephants for this reason.  So next time you’re at the Zoo, why not see how many enrichment items you can count in the Elephant exhibit - and maybe even pick up an elephant painting as a souvenir.

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