This art is created not by hands, but by paws and claws.
Paintings featuring the brush strokes and paw prints of animals such as snow leopards and sea lions from zoos around the nation sold this week for surprising amounts of money.
Just a few minutes into the auction, a painting by Cha Cha the lion already had sold for $550 while Pinto the pig's masterpiece sold for $250.
The sale is part of an online auction at auctionnetwork.com to raise money for zoo conservation efforts. It is sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
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“Art in some level is storytelling and there's an amazing story to tell here about the great care that animals receive and the conservation programs that the sale of this art will support, “ spokesman Steve Feldman said.
Zookeepers have long used painting as a way to mentally stimulate animals. Animal artwork also has been sold for some time, but Feldman said Tuesday marked the first collaborative effort by zoos.
Bidding began at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a painting by a penguin from Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo that sold for $180.
Martin Vince, curator of birds at the South Carolina zoo, said it wasn't hard to get Ricky inspired to paint.
“What we did basically was put some paint on the floor and aim him toward it with a fish on the other side,” Vince said. “I would it would call it a special penguin version of abstract painting.”
The auction is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums national meeting in Milwaukee this week.