Animal artists have brush with fame

Katya Arnold and Alex Melamid live in New York and teach painting. Some of their students like big, bold strokes; others prefer fine, delicate lines. Some are kids in New York. Others are elephants in Asia.

That's right. Arnold and Melamid, her husband, teach Asian elephants to paint. She has written the book "Elephants Can Paint Too!"

And elephants aren't the only species to stretch artistically.

Maggie, an 11-year-old sea lion at the zoo in Pittsburgh, paints for fish. Maggie gets a tasty fish snack after a few brush strokes.

A half-dozen orangutans and an Indian rhino at the San Diego Zoo also are painters. Some use brushes; the rhino paints with his lips.

Janey, the zoo's 44-year-old orangutan, seems to enjoy it the most. Seven of Janey's works were auctioned last year, raising $2,650 for great-ape conservation projects.

Arnold and Melamid's elephant students have had art shows in the United States, Europe and Asia. Money raised helps care for the shrinking number of Asian elephants.

It takes two weeks to a year to teach an elephant to paint, said David Ferris, director of the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project.

Read more about it at

Share This Story