At this point, I reconsidered my
seating placement, deciding to be freelance, and stand up, in case there
was a need to escape quickly. Other viewers did not seem nearly as disturbed
by this beastly outburst, and they, along with their children,
easily took front row seats. As for me, I began to get a bit clammy.
These animals are massive. They are
children, of course, only five and six years old, but tiny they are not.
Their immensity was fascinating. I love animals, and always had a few
dogs and cats, turtles, even a monkey while I was growing up. However, my
animal care taking history
had nothing to compare with this experience, and I surprised myself with
path through concrete benches and table
Soon paint was poured
into pools on plastic plates, and brushes were readied. The easel was set
up, with art paper attached, and a cardboard frame placed over it to keep
the paint inside the lines.
Enter the star, Kong Kum, a six
year old male elephant, with his mahout at his side. The art instructor
who was on the left, loaded up the brush, and Kong Kum eagerly reached for
it with his trunk. Over and over Kong Kum took the brush, and the instructor made
differing motions on the blank piece of paper so Kong Kum knew where and
what to paint. He followed directions impeccably.
Kong Kum in
Placement after placement, color
after color, with determined concentration, this little boy elephant was
eager to please his teacher. Mesmerized, we watched. Before we all knew it, a painting was
completed, and proudly, he bowed and curled his trunk for us.
Going back a second
time, both to take more photos and to see these fascinating gentle giants
once again, I was no less afraid, and could not bring myself to sit on the
elephant’s knee when it was offered. However, I was able to feed them
sugar cane, and this I considered personal progress.
These animals are awesome in
their physical presence as well as in potential. For their size,
they are light and gentle on their feet, and can perform exacting
tasks. This attempt to train them to paint is a fairly
new enterprise, with great hopes that it will attract income to pay for
their pricey maintenance.
The number of elephants still in Thailand today
is debated, but most of them live
in camps. To learn how to paint, these elephants must go to painting
school! For more information on elephant artists,
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
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About Billy & Akaisha