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These Oakland Zoo Animals Paint Way Better Than You

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Photos courtesy Oakland Zoo
Photos courtesy Oakland Zoo

The artist's work is abstract, you could could even call it wild. In a photo documenting his creative process, you can see him using a brush mounted on a stand to create a painting with curving blue lines and green dabs. His black mouth is thoughtfully pursed as his hairy little hand grips the brush and wields it across the canvas. If his technique seems primitive, it's because he's a primate. This artist is Maskini, a Vervet Green monkey who lives at at the Oakland Zoo. He is one of a group of animals who were offered the chance to make paintings that are currently being auctioned to raise funds for the Zoo, but at the time of this writing, his painting is leading the way with a bid of $305. The auction, which launched yesterday, has already raised more than $7,000.

This is the second year the Zoo has conducted the online auction, and they want you to know that no animals were harmed, coerced, or forced to participate. According to Oakland Zoo officials, zookeepers worked with the animals to create the art with non-toxic paint. Any animal who refused did not have to participate—but plenty were willing to pick up a brush or waddle, trot, and/or slither through paint and over canvas. A Zoo spokesperson says "only positive-reinforcement methods were used to encourage voluntary participation," so we suspect treats may have been involved.

Other animals who pitched in for the cause include Donna (an African elephant), Jennifer (a Ring-Tailed lemur), Zoe (a hyena), and, our personal favorite, Maggie (a Nigerian Dwarf goat). The auction ends on September 20, so you have until then to add an exotic element to your home.