A painting of a 37-year-old chimpanzee has won $10,000 (£6,450) for a Chimp Haven sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.
The primate, which uses its tongue to apply color instead of a brush, received the most votes in the chimpanzee art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Five other shrines competed, using paints created during “enrichment sessions”, but Brent’s delicate smears of blue, purple, yellow and turquoise triumphed in front of the judge.
Renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodhall chose her favorite piece from the selection of entries, which were voted on by 27,000 online entrants. Finalists included former performance monkey Patti, who painted with urgent strokes of primary colors; Jamie, who escaped from a life of biomedical research to create an abstract image in purple and pink; and former lab monkey Cheetah, whose burst of warm reds and yellows earned it second place.
“All of the art was beautiful and unique – just like the chimpanzees,” Goodall said. “It was hard to choose. It’s so important that the public support all of these sanctuaries in their mission to provide exceptional care for chimpanzees and other primates, who have suffered so much.”
Cathy Willis Spraetz, President and CEO of Chimp Haven, helped Brent, a retired lab animal, create his winning painting. She held a canvas up to the mesh of its inner cage so that he could smear the tempera paints with his tongue, producing an unorthodox splash and smear of color.
Winning sanctuaries will receive grants from HSUS to help care for chimpanzees removed from research, entertainment and the pet trade. It is estimated that more than 1,100 chimpanzees reside in laboratories, entertainment facilities, private residences, and other facilities in the United States.
What do you think of this award-winning chimpanzee art? Could your pet do better? Let us know below.