Some of Texas’s most innovative artists aren’t just painting with their hands, but with their feet, trunks and beaks. Awe-inspiring masterpieces from Dallas Zoo residents are being displayed permanently at Grapevine Mills starting this weekend, with the grand reveal happening at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, in the corridor near Santa’s Winter Wonderland.
Our Animal Adventures team will make a special appearance from 2-3 p.m., too.
The Zoo’s art program is one of the many ways we offer stimulating enrichment activities for our residents. It lets animals experience new and changing elements in their environment, helping them remain healthy and mentally engaged.
The creation process varies depending on the animal. Cockatoos are taught to hold a paintbrush in their beaks, then give it back to the keeper in exchange for food. Over time, the keeper adds non-toxic paint to the brush and introduces the canvases into the habitat, at which point the animals learn to paint. A lot of animals use their body parts to paint, including red river hogs who use their snouts! Animals like ball pythons or penguins, slither or walk on the non-toxic paint, then waddle or slide across the canvas, leaving beautiful scale-prints and footprints.
Want a piece of an animal art for yourself? Stop by our Zoofari Market gift shop to purchase a magnet and 100% of the profits will go directly toward enriching the lives of our residents.
For a sneak peek at the exhibit, check out photos of some paintings and excerpts from the animal bios:
- Jenny, an African elephant, has lived at the Dallas Zoo since 1986. She weighs 10,000 pounds and eats between 200 and 300 pounds of food each day.
- Riley the red river hog weighs 135 pounds and was born April 26, 2006. Red river hogs are omnivorous, nocturnal and highly sociable animals.
- This painting is a collaboration of the Dallas Zoo’s bachelor troop of gorillas, who are 12-13 years old. These boys love to play and wrestle and have an abundance of energy.
- Topper is a 16-year-old, male, white (or umbrella) cockatoo. White cockatoos can be found on the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia and are endangered due to habitat loss and trapping for the pet trade.
- Melati is a 178-pound Sumatran tiger who was born May 24, 2006. She has a rather distinct palate and fancies ground pork mixed in with her regular diet.
- Opus is a 28-year-old African penguin, the smallest in the Dallas Zoo’s colony. African penguins are an endangered species and populations continue to decline due to food shortages from overfishing, oil pollution, and human disturbance at nest sites.
- This painting is a collaboration of three chimps: KC, Koko, and Kona. KC, 18, is the alpha, or troop leader, of the Dallas Zoo chimpanzees. Koko, KC’s half-sister, is 30 and readily participates in any activity involving food. Kona, 6, learned how to paint by watching his elders and wants to be involved in any group activity.
- Tasanee is the youngest Asian small-clawed otter at the Dallas Zoo. She is a miracle in her own right, being the only single-born female pup in the nation to survive in over 12 years. Asian small-clawed otters form very strong family bonds and are more social than other otter species.
- Iggy and Hydrox are black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Due to deforestation in Madagascar, this species is highly endangered.
- Dewey, a ball python, was born in the reptile house at the Dallas Zoo on July 2, 2001. This nonvenomous python species is native to Africa.
- The Dallas Zoo’s group of 12 adult and 45 baby Texas horned lizards help spread awareness about conservation of a native reptile species. Texas horned lizards are one of three species of horned lizard found in Texas and are the state reptile.