Paintings by ‘Animal Artists in Residence’ at San Francisco Zoo Head to Auction

The controversy continues.

Painting by unnamed crowned lemur.
Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.

Should you fancy a painting by a mandrill or a Sumatran tiger, look no further than the San Francisco Zoo. These animals, among a variety of others, have produced a collective body of paintings in what the zoo calls their “Animal Artists in Residence” project—an attempt on the zoo’s part to create new ways to raise funds.

In “ZooFest,” roughly 50 paintings created by zoo animals will be auctioned at the zoo on Saturday, April 30 to support its annual budget. Until then, the zoo is hosting a public auction on eBay.

Painting by unnamed crowned lemur.<br>Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.

Painting by unnamed crowned lemur.
Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.

The zoo states that the animals’ creative output “provides enrichment,” but members of the public might not be so quick to agree. Recent interest in the phenomenon has prompted a number of questions and concerns regarding the ethics and possibilities of turning a profit, that emerged from animal-made art.

The United States Copyright office explicitly notes that objects created by non-humans are ineligible for copyright. This 2014 decision set a precedent for how humans could approach animal-made art objects. Photographer David Slater, for instance, was denied attempts at claiming the copyright for an Indonesian monkey’s selfie that year.

See more images of the animals’ works below.


Painting by an unnamed chimpanzee.
Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.

Asian Rhino

Painting by an unnamed rhino.
Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.


Painting by an unnamed wolverine.
Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Zoo.

The San Francisco Zoo’s online auction of select works runs until the date of the organization’s fundraiser, “Zoofest,” will be held at 6 p.m. on April 30.

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