Halifax, PA (WHTM) — Spike, Bakari and Tucker, the giraffes at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park start the day by eating their breakfast and dabbling in the arts simultaneously. Today, it’s kiss art. Kelsey Tobias, Supervisor of the Giraffe Department, explains the process.
“We lay a blank canvas in a tray, we’ll sprinkle all-organic, all-natural food coloring on the canvas, and then we sprinkle some of their grain, which is part of their diet,” Tobias said.
And as they eat their grain, their tongues (which are purple, by the way) push the food coloring all over the canvas’ Giraffe slobber does the rest, melting the powder into works of highly abstract art.
Kiss art is one of three genres with which these artistic ungulates express themselves.
“We do hoof prints,” Tobias said. “Where we paint the bottom of the hooves, and they step onto a canvas.” The giraffes have been trained to pick up their feet on command for medical exams and hoof trimmings.
Spike is the only giraffe that will paint by holding a brush in his mouth. Like many other artists, his work has gone through phases.
“You can see a difference between his brush art from a year ago versus his brush art now,” Tobias said. “It has completely changed, so his style is completely different.”
Many zoos have gotten into painting with some of their animals. It stimulates the animal’ minds and motor skills. The works of Spike, Bakari, and Tucker are also enriching an important giraffe protection organization.
“All of the proceeds from our paintings go to the World Giraffe Foundation, and they send it over to Africa for research and conservation Purposes,” Tobias explained.
The artworks are not anonymous. The story of the artwork, and which giraffe created it, is on the back of the painting. The giraffes painted all winter, and their artwork went on sale in the spring. The last chance to get one of their pieces will be at the park on June 21st, World Giraffe Day.
Then they’ll start producing more art next winter.