Zoo Animals Paint Adorable Pictures

Turns out National Zoo animals have an untapped (and really, really cute) talent.

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Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Zoo animals are enriching themselves -- in the cutest way possible -- by creating works of art with non-toxic, water-based paints. How much do you want a picture painted by a Mei Xiang?
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Red panda cubs Pili and Shama make paw prints as part of their enrichment activities.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Painting, says the zoo, "is one among many activities that fall under Animal Enrichment -- a program that provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo’s residents." Yes, even armadillos.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
A Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin does pretty well with the whole "grasping a paintbrush" thing.
Smithsonian's National Zoo
"Keepers and curators carefully study animal behavior and determine what kinds of enrichment are appropriate for each species and, occasionally, individual animals," said the zoo.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
This Small Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec paints ever so delicately.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
You can actually help out the animals with their artwork, too. Bring in any size canvas, art paper, paintbrush or non-toxic, water-based paint to the Visitor Center. Keepers are also collecting gifts for the animals this holiday season. (See the list of needed items here.)
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Look, the panda painting is adorable. But when do we get around to hugs?
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
"[T]he subjects of the animals’ paintings remain mysterious," the zoo notes.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Cricket the toucan isn't shy about his art.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
However, this female Elegant Crested Tinamou doesn't seem all that enthused.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The toddler-aged Western Lowland gorilla Kibibi is, appropriately enough, finger-painting.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Koa the Kiwi is quite prolific.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Art produced by the animals will be available for purchase at the National Capital chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Art Show in spring 2012.
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