- November 30, 2016

Move Over, Picasso: This Austin Zoo Capuchin Is A Total Art Wiz!

Update: Katie’s (as well as the other primates’) art is now for sale on the Austin Zoo website, as well as in the zoo’s gift shop! Prices range from $10-$65, depending on the type of material used.

This morning marked Katie the Capuchin’s very first painting session as part of her enrichment at Austin Zoo. Capuchins are New World monkeys whose range runs from Central to South America. We can totally see influences from Diego Rivera and Roberto Matta.

Katie's first painting session #austinzoo #primate #monkey #capuchin #enrichment #animalart

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Though this is Katie’s first painting session, she’s been at Austin Zoo for 10 years. The zoo recently introduced primates to using paintbrushes, and not only have primates like Katie and Capuchin Rusty enjoyed it, the public has responded well, too. There has been a great interest via social media to purchase the primate paintings. So far, the paintings have been on construction paper, but the zoo has recently ordered canvas and frames to create more works of art. Executive Director Patti Clark tells Austin.com that they hope to have prices and other options available for everyone this week or early next week. “Once we have more paintings in hand, we will be displaying them and selling them in the Gift Shop to cover the cost of the painting supplies and provide other enrichment items for the animals,” Clark said.

In addition to the Capuchins, the zoo has tried working with paint and painting with various animals over the years, including several species of primates and coatimundis, without much succes. “The animals did not like getting their hands or feet wet!” Clark said.

All animals at Austin Zoo receive enrichment from their keepers on a regular basis.  Enrichment items include toys, puzzle feeders and toys, scents, food treats, and changes to the animals’ habitats.  Zoo keepers work hard to be creative in designing items that are species appropriate and stimulating and engaging for each animal. You can find more fun examples of enrichment in action on the zoo’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

And stay tuned — we’ve got a great story coming up about a special enrichment project led by students at Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.

The Austin Zoo is a nonprofit rescue zoo and animal sanctuary with the mission to “assist animals in need through rescue, rehabilitation and education.” Learn more about them for a visit or to make a donation here.

Featured image screen shot from Austin Zoo’s Instagram