Everything amuses me. Especially weird animal tricks.
After I received an email with this video — I had to do some research. Some of the comments (yes, I read YouTube comments …) led me to believe that this wasn’t the magical experience I wanted it to be. Hey,I had to let go of the Tooth Faery, Santa Clause and The Great Pumpkin. I NEEDED to believe that these marvelous creatures were “honest to bog” painting and not going through “the motions” for a snuggle behind the ears and a few peanuts. Whomever said, “ignorance is bliss” wasn’t kidding.
The website I discovered: “Elephant Art (dot) Com” gave me this tidbit:
Fortunately, as we discovered on our recent trip to Thailand, many of these elephants and mahouts*are endowed with tremendous reserves of untapped artistic talent. Elephants, particularly Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), seem to possess an innate impulse to draw. Unprompted, an Asian elephant in captivity will often pick up a pebble or stick with the tip of her trunk and casually doodle on the floor of her enclosure. Of course, the leap from doodling in the sand to painting on canvas requires training, encouragement, and art supplies-for both elephant and human artists. We were thrilled to find that Thai elephants, conditioned by years of close collaborative work with their mahouts, were exceptionally quick learners. Not only did they swiftly master the fundamental techniques of painting, they also began to develop distinctive sensibilities and styles.
*A “mahout” is the elephant trainer that will often stay with the elephant for their entire life.
I choose to believe that these elephants are getting a kick out of the whole gig, and lead very pleasant, if not joyous lives. Whether or not (probably NOT) they have a concept of “dude, this is art …” isn’t important. It’s my understanding that the money earned from these paintings supports them and their mahouts.
But … What If they had a clue? What If these elephants had some idea that they were doing some sort of act that resulted in a representation of a pot of flowers, a tree or even another elephant?
We think in terms of words, eh? Do the images they manipulate mean something to them?
Oh. The possibilities.
I may have to seriously rethink my whole, “I can’t be a vegetarian” idealism.