Here you will find posts offering the environmental version of ‘what would you do.” There are no right, nor wrong answers of course--we just hope to challenge your perspective and encourage discussion on related scenarios that will test your ethical nature. Please feel free to add one of your own nature-related situations! We would love to join in the discussion :)

Now, what would you do...

Jun 28, 2011

Paintings By Animals: Abuse or Enrichment?

After reading comments from a LinkedIn discussion (more like a debate), “Should we consider paintings by dolphins, elephants and chimps as art?I began to think about the ethical debate of these animals creating these paintings in the first place.

Perhaps you’ve seen the video of Thai elephants painting for tourist? These videos sparked quite a bit of discussion concerning the exploitation of these creatures, including methods of training, rewards system, methods of trainer control during painting (some using chains, prods, others through gentle encouragement by the trainer), also the age of the elephants, and more. It is advertised that the paintings sold generate funds that help cover the cost of treatment and care for these elephant camps. However there is concern that the elephants are very young and are being taken (too young) from their mothers in order to do these paintings--questioning the legitimacy or sickening "spin" of claims the funds support milk for orphaned elephants.
  • Are these animals enjoying a voluntary, natural expression, or are they performing a trick for a reward?
  • Is this animal abuse or animal enrichment?
  • Are we imposing our human traits onto non-human beings?
  • Are the animals enjoying this activity?
  • Is the trade off worth the funds raised to promote awareness and protection of these animals in the wild?
  • Is it ethical?
Take a moment to watch and read these links for more information and please share your comments below, tell us what you think:

Why Elephants Paint Thoughtful article discussing concerns about elephants painting for tourist and/or to raise funds for the camps that house them.

6 Professional Painters From the Animal Kingdom Six animals "known" for their art, each with a short description of how they started painting, background on where they came from, etc.

12 Artsy Animals That Paint A text and slideshow of domestic and zoo animals creating art for show and fundraising.

Animal Arts multiple videos of different animals painting to see for yourself