Can sea lions and rhinos paint? Yes they can, and zookeepers report that making art is an excellent enrichment activity for the animals. Besides adding an interesting and complex diversion from their daily routines, the abstract artwork the animals produce is sold to benefit projects and programs which help save endangered and threatened species from
extinction www.stlzoo.org. Birds paint too - in Houston, a macaw named Denver holds a paintbrush in his beak to make art. Proceeds from sales of the parrot’s work are used to help save animals in the wild www.houstonzoo.org. Over at the Palm Beach Zoo, you can order a painting by any one of a number of different animals including turtles,
otters, panthers and foxes. Proceeds from the Florida zoo’s “Art Gone Wild” program help provide for the care and feeding of the zoo’s animals www.palmbeachzoo.org.
Not to be outdone by their zoo animal brethren, horses also have been known to wield a paintbrush. The mustang Cholla; the thoroughbred Metro and the Gypsy Sport Horse mare Rainbrandt are just some of the equine artists whose work has been exhibited and sold. A documentary entitled “My Paintbrush Bites” has even been made to tell the story of Metro and his owner Ron Krajewski (also an artist). Their unique horse/human collaborative paintings have backgrounds of Metro’s brush strokes and foregrounds like racing scenes painted by Ron.
Is there intellectual property protection for animal-made art? A creator of an original work has the exclusive right to determine how and if the work can be used (copied or sold for example) by others through copyright. Because there is a human authorship requirement for copyright protection, your pet Picassos’ independent work is not protectable in the U.S. But if the painting is an animal/human art collaboration like Ron & Metro’s work, it
should be eligible for copyright protection for the humanly created elements.
Learn more about U.S. copyright at Copyright.gov