In Thailand, they have elephants who can paint a picture of themselves.
But is it a gimmick, or a sign that elephants are gifted with a particular intelligence?
I searched around the Web, and found an explanation. If you look very carefully, the elephants are attended by one or more people who are standing behind them, hidden to the camera. (Look at the elephant’s front right leg – you can see a person’s (or persons’) leg to both the right and left of it.) The person tugs or touches the elephant in a way that tells it what line to paint where and how. And if you visit the same elephant every day, you’ll see the same painting done again and again and again.
So maybe it is a gimmick, teaching an elephant to paint. But then again, good luck teaching this little girl to do anything that doesn’t involve eating, pooping or chasing a ball.
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UPDATE: Reader TJ forwarded a link to Snopes that explains more about how this is done, with some serious prodding from the trainer. This video shows the prodding in action. It’s still pretty cool.