Oakland Zoo auctioning paintings by its animals

Oakland Zoo auctioning paintings by its animals

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An auction for 32 colorful paintings produced by elephants, giraffes, river otters & even a cockroach at the Oakland Zoo is underway with more than half a dozen bids on the art work.

Bids start at $200, & so far Thursday there are bids on works by a chimp & meerkats, an elephant & lemurs, according to eBay.

But the sun bear is leading the pack with two bids.

p>The painting sessions were conducted by zoo keepers who used only positive reinforcement, including plenty of treats, as they worked with the animals, zoo spokeswoman Nicky Mora said.

Elephants were helped to hold paintbrushes in their trunks & giraffes in their mouths & produced their artwork one stroke at a time. Goats, lemurs & meerkats had their hooves, paws or claws dabbed with nontoxic, water-based paint & ran over a blank sheet of poster board while chasing a treat.

Andy, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, scurried around a canvas. The result was a piece in purple, green & yellow tones.

Maggie, a Nigerian dwarf goat, had her hooves dipped in blue, green & yellow paint. The keeper coaxed her with snacks to walk on a canvas.

"It was pleasant for them because they received treats for participating," Mora said.

One of the zoo's giraffes, named Benghazi, seems to have a special affection for the artistic process.

"Oh, I think he loves it," lead giraffe keeper Amy Phelps said. "He unquestionably seems to know that the painting is his thing. When we take it out the paint brushes & the paint, he comes right over like he's excited to participate."

None of the animals was forced to take part, zoo officials said.

Last year, Oakland Zoo auctioned off twelve paintings & raised nearly $10,000.

The eBay bidding this year will end Sept. 20. The funds raised will benefit Oakland Zoo's conservation partners, who are working in the field to save wild animals, Mora said.

Some of the paintings will be exhibited starting Thursday & through Sept. 20 at The Blueprint, a tea lounge, in Oakland.

Source: “Associated Press”