If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed the occasional post about animals painting. Some of the our staff members that work in the EARTH Discovery Center have been using painting as an enrichment activity. The role of enrichment is essentially to keep animals stimulated and to promote natural behaviors. We’ve worked with a few different animals including the chimpanzees, an African crested porcupine, a baby alligator, various snakes, an armadillo, and our bush baby.
One of our EARTH Discovery Center interns designed this contraption to allow Pickles the porcupine to paint. The smaller rube on the end has treats such as sweet potato and banana inside of it. As Pickles manipulates it to get the food out, the larger tube moves a paint brush across the canvas.
Another animal we worked with was Vegas. He is a type of bush baby called a greater galago. Painting actually encouraged a natural bush baby behavior. Bush babies perform something called “urine washing” which involves the animal covering their hands and feet with their urine. They do this to mark their territory as they move about an area. Urine also makes their hands and feet sticky providing better grip when climbing. Vegas rubbed his paint covered hands on branches in his enclosure similar to how a wild bush baby would mark his own territory.