Zoo primates give new artwork a huge thumbs up

Orangutang's at Dudley Zoo showed some real ape-reciation for art when they came face-to-face with their images on a stunning canvas.

The primates are one of only a few species able to recognise their own image and gave the artwork a definite thumbs up when their keeper showed them one of the zoo’s limited edition prints.

The piece was one of 100 gorgeous canvasses of the attractions four Bornean orangs; Benji, Jorong, Jazz and Sprout, which have been printed from an original drawing by Bromsgrove artist David Skidmore. The semi-professional sketcher and animal lover donated the artwork in aid of the zoo's £800,000 outdoor enclosure appeal – and more than a quarter of the prints have already sold.

Senior Primate Keeper Sian-Leigh Simner, who showed the masterpiece to seven-year-old Sprout and 41-year-old Benji, said the great apes were hugely interested in the art. She said:

“Orangs, chimps and dolphins are believed to be the only animals capable of recognising their own picture or reflection so when I showed Sprout and Benji their faces on the canvas, they took a very close look at it.

“Sprout was particularly interested and kept staring at the image and pointing at her portrait, unlike mum Jazz who was too busy enjoying her breakfast of carrot, celery, apple and pellets.

“The youngster was a great critic and certainly approved of the spectacular montage which will help pull in funds to build a new outdoor home for our orangs.”

Sian said the intelligent orangs always realised they were seeing their reflection when they had been shown a mirror in the past, but said many other primates did not share the same skill. Lemurs, for example, would think it was another lemur if they saw themselves in the mirror and would either scent mark to claim their territory or even try to attack the reflection.

The unique canvasses – named ‘We are appealing!’ and each costing £49.99 – are individually signed by the artist and come boxed with a certificate of authenticity. They're available from the on-site Safari Shop or by visiting the zoo's online shop


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