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Zoo Boise's penguins feature their artistic talents

Zoo Boise's penguins create 'abstract art' with visitors

Zoo Boise hosted a 'Paint with Penguins' night, which featured their feathered friends creating abstract art with visitors.
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Zoo Boise hosted a 'Paint with Penguins' night, which featured their feathered friends creating abstract art with visitors.

Zoo Boise has taken the traditional wine-and-painting class and made it ‘wild’ -- adding penguins to the mix to help students create one-of-a-kind works of art.

The zoo held a ‘Paint with Penguins’ night Tuesday, June 19.

Participants enjoyed wine and cheese while using Crayola washable tempera paint, which is non-toxic to the animals, to create colorful backgrounds on their blank canvases.

Once participants completed their part of the painting, one of Zoo Boise’s Magellanic penguins, Marie, arrived on the scene to add her finishing touches.

But how does Zoo Boise get these tuxedo friends to paint with their flippers?

They don’t. They use their feet.

The penguins dip their feet into the washable tempera paint and run amock over the canvases, adding their personal, creative touches.

“Painting is actually something zoos use a lot for their animals,” zookeeper Tori Hopkins said. “We always want to enrich our animals so this is just another type of enrichment where we’re mentally and physically stimulating the animals.”

When the ‘abstract art’ is complete, the zookeepers wash off the penguins before returning them to their exhibit.

Luckily, none of the penguins were shedding old feathers or nesting; otherwise the event would’ve been postponed.

The class also included a keeper talk and an hour long behind the scenes tour of areas that are normally closed to visitors like the zoo’s veterinary clinic and zookeeper areas.

The money raised from the event will go to general zoo programs and activities as well as zoo projects like the Gorongosa expansion.

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