Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's amazing what elephants can do

I happened to be on my friend Todd's facebook profile where he had linked to a Youtube video of an elephant painting a self portrait of himself. Curious, I watched the video and was blown away over the elephant's talents. I highly recommend watching the video.

Naturally when it comes to wild animals forced to exhibit unnatural skills, you wonder what methods were used to train the elephants. I decided to investigate further and was directed to that sells the elephants' paintings. Digging further it explained how these domesticated elephants were used for hauling lumber but due to cutbacks on logging in Thailand the elephants were no longer needed. Thus the elephants were trained using positive reinforcements (like bananas and sugarcane) and non-toxic paints to help protect them from people using them for illegal logging or begging on the streets. Proceeds from their creations are used to protect their natural habitat as well as for veterinarian care, food, and caretaker education. All paintings listed on the site were sold out so I was unable to see what the paintings sold for. However I am glad to read the elephants are not being abused and are protected.

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