Art

Curated

The Intersection of ARTS and MEDICINE


By Britni Riley | July 05, 2017

Rainbo has been looking forward to painting all morning. Dancing anxiously on his stand, he performs a quick pirouette when Amber Zelmer approaches with his modified paint brushes and palette of colors.

Rainbo, a 26-year-old eclectus parrot who hails from the South Pacific, has been painting artistic masterpieces at the Houston Zoo for nearly two decades.

“Parrots are very smart and they need a lot of interaction,” said Zelmer, senior keeper of the children’s zoo within the Houston Zoo. “Whether it is painting, interacting with visitors … or talking to us with the over 30 vocalizations he knows, we use enrichment programs to keep his mind stimulated and keep him active.”

Just like hospitals in the Texas Medical Center provide therapy for patients, the zoo offers enrichment programs for animals.

Although caring for sick animals is not the main function of the zoo, enrichment programs are an essential part of daily life. Because the animals are no longer in their natural environments, the zoo uses painting and other activities to help encourage natural responses.

“These activities help to stimulate the same sort of thinking process in the animals as they would have in the wild,” Zelmer explained. “Obviously, a wild parrot is not going to be painting—he would be out searching for food, searching for material to build a nest and interacting with other parrots in a social way. When I train with him, that fulfills his need for his social interaction and he gets food for completing a trained behavior.”

Biting down on his whittled paintbrush, Rainbo uses water-based, non-toxic paints to make delicate strokes and loops with reds, purples and blues.

“Rainbo is one of the best painters at the zoo,” Zelmer said. “He and the other parrots and the elephants are the only animals that can paint with brushes, which makes their work look more human.”

When Rainbo and the other animals finish their paintings, the works are sold online and at fundraisers. For zoo visitors who want a more comprehensive experience, a special program allows them to watch the animals paint and then purchase one of the paintings from that session.

All proceeds from animal paintings go to animal conservation.

“Whenever we sell a painting, we use that money to help animals across the world that might be endangered or sick,” Zelmer said. “It not only gives Rainbo a job to keep his mind active, but he is helping other animals, too.”

Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Dr.
Information: 713-533-6500 or houstonzoo.org

Tags | Art



RELATED NEWS

picture

Curated

August 01, 2017
picture

Curated

July 05, 2017
picture

Curated

June 07, 2017

Social Posts

profile_image

Texas Children's Hospital

TexasChildrensHospital

Patients, families and staff of Texas Children's Cancer Center celebrated “Going Gold” for childhood cancer awareness with events this month at Texas Children's...

30 mins ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @McGovernMed: September is #HealthAgingMonth https://t.co/lgfbyggUy7

31 mins ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @McGovernMed: Clinical study to compare general anesthesia, sedation, in #stroke https://t.co/sETS9bOCaF

32 mins ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: Food allergy vs. food intolerance: @bcmhouston's @TCHFoodMD explains important distinction and the body's response: ht?

32 mins ago
profile_image

MD Anderson

@MDAndersonNews

How Pushpa Damle faced her fear of chemo to overcome #lungcancer: https://t.co/DS2LZfZDu0 #CancerMoonshot #LCSM? https://t.co/XjzS60lZHr

38 mins ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

It's a beautiful day for a stroll through the @RiceFarmersMkt! https://t.co/LfzhxfXSUG

53 mins ago
profile_image

TAMU Health Sciences

@TAMHSC

Research shows that having a community recovery plan isn't as effective if there isn't public participation https://t.co/6MOuU2nsgC

1 hour ago
profile_image

Texas Children's Hospital

TexasChildrensHospital

Significant progress has been made inside Texas Children’s Legacy Tower! The 25-floor Legacy Tower will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensiv...

1 hour ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

Check out the @ChaoCenter's Transnational Asia Speaker Series on Monday, Oct. 2! https://t.co/bmyZbroPwz

1 hour ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: .@bcmhouston receives renewal SPORE grant from @theNCI to continue advancing #lymphoma #immunotherapy research. https:?

1 hour ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Mobile pantry to serve Veterans at VA sites https://t.co/OM0FcvLQw1 via @tdtnews

1 hour ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @tvparrot: Neat idea from @UTHealth ? Hurricane Harvey Heroes webpage highlights the unsung heroes in their hurricane approach. https://?

1 hour ago
profile_image

UTMB Health

@utmbhealth

#HealthTipTuesday: Take safety precautions to avoid injuries while doing repairs after #Harvey. Learn more:? https://t.co/FMwtIrOZdw

2 hours ago
profile_image

UTMB Health

UTMB.edu

Take safety precautions to avoid injuries while doing repairs after Hurricane Harvey. Learn more helpful recovery tips: https://www.utmb.edu/recovery

2 hours ago
profile_image

Baylor College of Medicine

BaylorCollegeOfMedicine

Baylor College of Medicine ranks among the healthiest 100 workplaces in the U.S.

2 hours ago