What do an elephant, a parrot, and a squirrel monkey have in common? Apparently, they all can paint.
At least according to the Oakland Zoo, which has cajoled those, and more than a dozen other species into flicking some brushes or scurrying across canvases to produce artwork that will be auctioned for charity.
The art sessions were conducted by zookeepers who relied on positive-reinforcement and promises of treats to entice the animals to explore their artistic sides, zoo spokeswoman Nicky Mora told the Associated Press.
Andy, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, made his way around a canvas creating a work in purple, green, and yellow tones.
Maggie, a Nigerian dwarf goat, had her hooves dipped in blue, green and yellow paint and the keeper coaxed her with snacks to walk on a canvas.
Elephants held paintbrushes in their trunks and giraffes held brushes in their mouths, and produced their artwork, as most painters do, one stroke at a time. Goats, lemurs, and meerkats were motivated across posterboard with treats, their hooves, feet, and claws, respectively, dipped in paint to create the artwork.
"It was fun for them because they got treats for participating," Mora said.
None of the animals was forced to take part, she added.
Last year, Oakland Zoo auctioned off twelve paintings and raised nearly $10,000.This year, 32 works are up for auction on eBay beginning Thursday, and ending Sept. 20, with the funds going to support Oakland Zoo's conservation partners, who are working in the field to save wildlife.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.