Elephant Artist Paints An Elephant

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 30th, 2008

This is amazing, if it is true:

Credit Cory Dortorow.

Boing Boing had earlier dealt with elephants as artists and linked to the National Geographic article on elephants as musicians.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

22 Responses to “Elephant Artist Paints An Elephant”

  1. Lee Murphy responds:

    That’s a whole lot better than some of the stuff that passes for art these days. It also reminds me of a cartoon I saw in a magazine several years ago: Two wolves are sitting in a cave beside a fire. Two cavemen are watching from outside and the first caveman says to the other, “If we play our cards right, we can take the credit for this!”

  2. Spinach Village responds:

    speechless… i am without speech….

    oh yeah… the decisions the elephant was making, was very impressive… that deserves a bookmark with a star…

    thanks for the post

  3. Arctodus responds:

    If this is a hoax, it’s a fabulous one. If it is real, the painted elephant is crying from it’s temporal gland.

    I hope it is real, because I am crying right now.

  4. Gary the Cat responds:

    That’s its ear!

    Dunno on this one. If real, I would suggest some very fierce training regime-very possible given these shows in the Far East.

    However, something screams ‘ fake’ to me-notice the quick cut when he first zooms in so you only see the trunk and not the whole elephant?

    Also, he stays focused like that all the way through, even though there are clear cuts in the video. Why no wide shots of the whole elephant until the very end?

    Also, a guy carries off another picture at the end-why no cuts to the elephant painting that?

    I don’t think many amateur cameramen are that good-you know the quality of your average Youtube pic!

    It would be nice if it was real, tho!

  5. RichardC responds:

    I am thinking real. Which raises the question in my mind of whether as noted above, training or self? The addition of the flower would lend itself to the view of training as it would look like “Horton”.

  6. shumway10973 responds:

    The fake trunk idea could work for the footage, but it looks like there is a live audience watching. The best I can think of would be the trainer having a stick on the opposite side of the trunk.
    Now, I have to ask, “Was the person filming this there just to catch the elephant just painting? Did anyone have any idea this elephant on this day was going to do a self-portrait?”
    That is the only thing my skeptic side is screaming, “What are the odds that it was caught on video?” It would be like a chimp lover taping their tour thru a place where they allow the chimps to type with old type writers and catching one actually writing a decent story that ends up becoming a New York best seller.

    Oh, well, whose to say elephants wouldn’t be painting in the wild (given security nothing is going to eat them and the supplies necessary…oh, and definitely enough food to eat)?

  7. A. Santini responds:

    The trunk looks and bends very much like a human arm in many of the close up shots. I’d like to think it’s a true attempt by the elephant.. but I also tend to have the same suspicions on authenticity as many of the other posters here today. It looks like a fake.

  8. Mark WGC responds:

    That painting the guy is carrying towards the end, its a bunch of flowers very similar to the one the elephant is painting that the same time. I’d say the elephant is being cued.

  9. Ceroill responds:

    Did anyone else notice that at the beginning of the film all the elephants shown are carrying the little art ‘kits’? That or something similar.

  10. ETxArtist responds:

    This is absolutely astounding. Think of the aesthetic and intent, and it’s even more amazing. As an artist I give this my respect and enjoyment!

  11. CamperGuy responds:

    Don’t doubt the elephant really did paint the painting.

    The elephant was trained to make a set but limited number of strokes in a pattern to create the portrait. I saw only two techniques used. In short a very intelligent animal was taught to make a very simple painting.

    I think the elephant could repeat this particular painting over and over. I honestly see no mystery or hoaxing.

    All of that said Bravo! I’d certainly like to have one of those paintings. It would truly be a treasure. Picasso should have been as good. 🙂

    I do wonder how the elephant perceives the painting it drew. Does it recognize the painting as an elephant? Did it the first time? The 300th time? If so could it then go on to actually try to draw something on its own?

  12. simianfever responds:

    CamperGuy has it. Apparently the elephant was trained to do this painting over and over. Found another video of the what I assume to be the same elephant painting the same picture (on an orange canvas) on youtube…


  13. squatch-toba responds:

    The “feel good” video of the year!!

  14. cryptidsrus responds:


    That is outta sight!!!

    Thanks for the link, Loren!!!

  15. sschaper responds:

    I sure hope that it wasn’t the horrific training regimen stated earlier. Elephants are amazingly useful domestic animals, assuming that they can be gentled by non-tormenting means.

    Even if it was trained to do that, it is remarkable. It if understands that it is painting an elephant, though would be stunning. But there are ways to research that sort of thing. Have they been done? Perhaps elephants should be researched as has been done with primates and African Gray parrots.

  16. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I don’t know if this is real.

    But I do like elephants. They’re so cool! 🙂

  17. MattBille responds:

    I do have to wonder about it. Elephants that paint don’t produce recognizable shapes in any literature I’ve seen on the subject. They apparently do sometimes take color cues from things visible to them. (The example I remember was one putting a splotch of red in a painting shortly after a red emergency vehicle pulled up near its pen.)

  18. sausage1 responds:

    Great video.

    Marcel Duchamp said that something is art if the artist says it is art. Now if the elephant said ‘this is art, mate!’ that really WOULD be impressive.

  19. DARHOP responds:

    Now that is just too KOOL!

  20. Rapscallion responds:

    Certainly makes you wonder what things we humans miss, don’t it?

  21. Aaron responds:

    Very interesting. Again, mainstream science seems to be turned upside down. If this is a hoax, I can’t figure out how it’s done. Seems legit.

  22. MattBille responds:

    http://www.snopes.com classifies it as true, saying, I think (their text is a little imprecise here) that the elephant is filling in a drawing already outlined for it.

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