elephant-painting.jpgElephants are one of the smartest and most inteligent species, on par with apes and dolphins. This remarkable video shows elephants in Thailand creating realistic paintings of other elephants whenever they’re given paints and brushes.  Thanks to Donna Jones for the tip! 


  1. I am sorry to ruin this story for everyone, but, this camp does not treat its elephants humanely. The elephants go through horrible things to be “trained”. They were collars with spike-like things behind their ears to ensure they behave. The way the babies are “broken” is better left unsaid. Though you can easily look up traditional breaking of baby elephants and find out for yourself. Unfortunately because many “westerners” do not understand what is happening in the “off-hours” they assume what is being done is humane. Please take this off of your site as it is not a GOOD news story.

  2. I won’t take the story off the site, but it’s okay, you can’t ruin the story for everyone.

    I saw in the video how they are paraded the animals in front of people to perform, and I don’t generally approve. (see my elephant sanctuary story about the home in Tennessee for former circus ele’s. — just type elephant in the search field.) However, seeing an elephant paint is VERY inspiring.

    Things in this life are not always black and white, much as many like to believe that they are. One can find inspiration in the heart of darkness, because it’s what’s inside that inspires… from the elephant’s heart to my heart.

    I applaud all efforts to treat creatures more humanely, but I don’t applaud PETA for their tactics some of the time. It’s what is in your heart. hate? aggression? resistance? or tolerence, compassion, empathy and peace?

    I love this elephant picture. They should print it, sell it and raise money for an elephant sanctuary in Thailand! Who wants to arrange this?

  3. I have nothing to do with PETA. I am not even involved in animal rights activism. I don’t even have a pet. I did have the opportuntity some years back to do some volunteer work with elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand though. This is a personal thing. I know this particualr camp and just had to say something. It is not just that the animals are performing, but the inhumane training tactics. You also don’t see the beatings, the “breakings”, or the spikes behind their ears. Though I suppose you might see the infamous metal hook. I would have to watch again. It is truly awful.

    There is already an elephant sanctuary in Thailand where the elephants roam free. You don’t need to sell a painting to support it.

  4. That is the heart of darkness of which I spoke. I said we can find inspiration in these places.

    None of us approve of the torture to which you so graphically allude. (I simply mentioned that I don’t approve of PETA tactics either… to show that I turn toward qualities that I admire , while turning away from the other.) I like to focus on those who help in the spirit of peace, while understanding that many things could be improved and are being improved.

  5. You’ve been had! I hate to break it to you people, but animals can’t draw pictures. Obviously some guy is holding the trunk off screen and guiding it along to draw the picture. How naive all of you are for believing this.! Jeez!

  6. Face it, it is too bad animals have to perform for many people to think about them at all. When it becomes a personal experience we humans begin to care about a creature, it is just our nature, out of site out of mind. It is too bad the elephants aren’t treated well but if it takes this to convince the masses what intelligent, beautiful animals elephants are so they (we) will care more about them I am happy it is out there to be seen. To call people naive for wanting to see it shows naivety on your own part for not facing the reality of humanity. Like it or not the elephants really are painting and it really is a beautiful thing to see…even for a pessimist like myself. To write “animals can’t draw pictures” makes you seem to believe very little in the true intelligence of other creatures…they can and some do whether you believe in it or not. I am so glad it is on the site and enjoyed it very much.

  7. Well…maybe I was overly harsh and too skeptical. Those elephant drawings basically consist of about 5 or 6 lines and I suppose it is possible that an elephant could be trained to makes these practiced lines without necessarily really understanding what it’s doing. As a Golden Retriever, I find it very difficult holding a stick in my mouth to peck out these words on my keyboard so I can appreciate that those elephants do indeed have some talent…whatever it is they are really doing.

  8. I think the naivete is in not recognizing the harshness and cruelty it must take to train an animal to perform an elaborate “trick” that is not in its nature to do. This is done by people who do not care about the animal’s well-being but only in the money to be made in the performance. There are ways to train animals with kindness and reward but it takes more time and investment than cruelty and punishment. Animals are just a commodity to most people. It’s disingenuous to keep saying “well, la-di-da, I like the cute pictures, so who cares how the elephant is treated”.

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