Maybe youíve seen one of the amazing videos of elephants painting in Thailand. Itís quite a tourist attraction. The two videos, on pages 1 and 2 tell the story from a couple of vantage points, and on page 3 Desmond Morris gives his point of view
In this video, watch as Hong, the star elephant at the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project, paints a self portrait. Or does she?
The project was started as a way to support elephants which have found themselves out of work after the banning of logging in Thailand. The skills of Hong would seem to show that elephants, which were already thought to be very smart, truly are quite remarkable.
But are they really creating a work of art? If you look carefully youíll notice that the elephantís trainer is always standing beside her as she paints, guiding her movements. Maybe it’s a bit of a trick, then, but it’s amazing and fun to watch, and keeps the elephants fed and happy.
Moreover it turns out that elephants actually like to paint, and will do so without prompting, once the technique has been demonstrated to them. They have been painting for years, all over the world, and many zoos help support their elephant populations through sales of their paintings.
Next up, on page 2, you’ll see another video featuring Hong and a London art teacher who compares her to Matisse.
Photo credit: Alex Valavanis