Meet some elephants that can paint their own picture (video)

In Thailand, they have elephants who can paint a picture of themselves.

elephant-paints-animated

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.

sasha-couch

This is Sasha’s “are we playing ball yet?” look. It comes in several varieties.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

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.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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