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Paintings by elephants appear to have first aroused public interest in 1970 when the elephant Carol from the San Diego Wild Animal Park painted some pictures on an American television programme, ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson. Carol's exploits encouraged Don Redfox, the elephant manager at Toledo, Ohio, Zoo, to teach his elephant Rasha to paint. Whereas Carol's paintings were primarily for human amusement, Rasha's paintings were encouraged as a way of enriching the animal's life in the zoo, which recruited a ‘behavioural enrichment specialist’ to help provide a stimulating environment for the animals. Some zoos refused to teach the elephants to paint on the ground that it was unnatural, while others encouraged it with the intention of easing the boredom of captivity.
Green, Red and Orange Streaks
watercolour on paper
H 43.3 x W 33.5 cm
purchased by the Wellcome Library from Knoxville Zoo, 2000
Drawing & watercolour