Into the Wild

Animal Art from Caldwell Zoo

Through July 13, 2008

Binti (elephant). Untitled, n.d. Acrylic on canvas. Photo by Robert Langham.

Into the Wild: Animal Art from Caldwell Zoo is an exhibition bringing art and animals together—and indoors. This partnership exhibition between the Tyler Museum of Art and Caldwell Zoo spotlights the zoo's most prominent pachyderm painters—namely, elephants and rhinos—and showcases more than 20 of their works in acrylic.

"We also have a sampling of pieces created by Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a bearded dragon named Norbert," TMA Head of Education Katie Powell said.

The exhibition was inspired by the routine of "environmental enrichments," an integral part of the daily care for all animals at Caldwell Zoo. Enrichments stimulate the animal to interact with its environment, encouraging natural behaviors and simulating behavioral opportunities much like those an animal may encounter in the wild.

"Enrichments are in the best interest of the animal, reducing stress and ensuring not only physical health, but also psychological well-being," said Linda Kunze, Caldwell Zoo curator of education. "Painting for pachyderms is certainly something that would not be a part of life in the wild, but it is an activity that they seem to find enjoyable, even relaxing. Of course, it could be that the best part of the process is getting all the fruit and vegetable treats as they paint."