Some very talented artists are ready for a biennial art show at the Houston Zoo, only after much preparation, concentration and hard work.
And they're not members of the staff.
Artists-in-residence orangutans, elephants, siamangs and babirusas present their masterpieces from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the zoo for the 10th fundraising exhibition, "Pongos Helping Pongos: Art by Orangutans, for Orangutans." For a $10 donation, art collectors — and animal lovers — can bid on very original artwork during the silent auction.
All the proceeds are donated to help save wild orangutans in their endangered natural habitats. Since 2004, the zoo has hosted five "Pongos Helping Pongos" events every two years, raising more than $200,000 for conservation efforts in southeast Asia.
"Pongo" is the genus for orangutans, which are found on only two islands in the world.
The local artists used natural tools and even their hooves and fingers to create the paintings, an exercise providing the animals with an outlet to express their intelligence, personalities and abilities.
"Elephants paint by holding a brush with the end of their trunks," says Brian Hill, public relations director for the Houston Zoo. "Sometimes keepers will have them press the end of their trunks on the paint pallets and then press the end of their trunks on the canvas so you get that heart shapes of the end of their trunks on the canvas."
Hill says orangutans use ginger leaves or bamboo leaves or their hands. "It’s usually the young orangutans who like to finger paint," he says.
"And Remley (a babirusa) paints by walking through paint that keepers have put on a heavy brown paper and then walks on to the canvas," he adds. "Really a stunning result, when you consider the technique."
Take a look at our slideshow preview of the auction — artists' profiles included.
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