Mshindi the black rhino with paintbrush
Recently I visited the zoo on a very cold day and the rhinos, hippos and elephants were all inside the building where they share night quarters. I walked through and saw once again the display of Mshindi's art so I took photos of the photos on the display wall. to share here.
In the wild, black rhinos spend most of their time browsing for food. They strip leaves off branches with their strong and versatile prehensile upper lips. In order to keep Mshindi from getting listless, one of his keepers at the Denver Zoo taught him to paint with tempera on a board that she held for him. In addition to being an "enrichment exercise," it also taught him to trust his keepers and allow them to approach and touch him. Mshindi's paintings have become so popular that each year at the annual zoo fundraiser one or more of his paintings are either sold or raffled off.
This is only one example of animal enrichment activities: The orangutans are given PVC pipe with cheerios stuck inside with honey so they must use a stick and work to get them out. The zoo has a standing committee of volunteers whose job it is to make or purchase tools to keep the animals occupied and challenged in captivity.
My favorite of Mshindi's paintings is his self-portrait. I think it actually looks a bit like him.