100-year-old Aldabra Tortoise Paints At Tulsa Zoo

Wednesday, April 1st 2009, 6:06 pm
By: News On 6

By Rick Wells, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The News On 6 recognizes this is April Fool's Day, so this could be one of those April Fool's jokes, but Rick Wells assures it's not.

Wells was at the Tulsa Zoo on Wednesday, watching a 100-year-old Aldabra Tortoise named Big Al, paint.

There are different kinds of animal art. There is art of animals and art by animals. The folks at the Tulsa Zoo have discovered Big Al the Aldabra Tortoise is developing some talent as a painter.

This is Big Al's third painting session. It's a pretty simple process. The canvas is prepared and Big Al starts walking.

Big Al paints and then gets produce. Russ Becker, Big Al's keeper, has a carrot. Big Al loves carrots.

"That's a good one," said Russ Becker with the Tulsa Zoo. "Oh, we got a back foot. I don't think we've ever gotten a back foot. That's a good one."

Perfect, in just the right place and there are others.

Folks at Joe Mamma's Downtown, a local pizza place, are surrounded by animal art.

Some pricey paw prints by the zoo's polar bear. Gary the Guinea Hog painted one.

It's animal enrichment, a way for zookeepers to interact with the animals and it's a fundraiser.

"Most of all it's a great way to bring much needed funds into the zoo," said Angela Evans with the Tulsa Zoo.

By the way, the paint they use is simple tempra paint, veterinarian approved and safe for the animals.

Aldabra Tortoises, like Big Al, can live beyond 200 years, so he has decades of creative life ahead of him, as long as the carrots hold out.

Joe Mamma's Downtown is located at 112 South Elgin. The exhibit will be there through the month of April and of course all the paintings are for sale.