Animal Artwork

The keepers at the Saint Louis Zoo work to enrich the lives of the animals in their care every day. They add interesting and complex activities to the animals’ daily routine. Enrichment activities are fun for both animals and keepers. All paints are non-toxic for the animals.

The Saint Louis Zoo keepers offer paints and canvas to some of our animals, resulting in beautiful works of art. Every original painting is very different from the next. Proceeds from the sale of animal artwork benefit the St. Louis Chapter of American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) for projects and programs to save endangered and threatened species from extinction. 

Penguin Paintings

Our paintings by penguins are made with the witty inspiration of two Magellanic penguins in the Zoo’s Penguin & Puffin Coast. The penguins walk through non-toxic paints in various colors, then walk all over the canvases, resulting in stunning abstract works of art! (They even stand back and admire their art from time to time!)

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50
11x14- $75
16x20 - $114

Primate Paintings

These extremely intelligent creatures work industriously and think about every stroke they make on canvas. They begin with a canvas blobbed with dollops of non-toxic paint in strategic places, and their creativity is expressed through finger painting. 

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50
11x14- $75
16x20 - $114

Insect Paintings

Our paintings by a variety of insects are an interspecies collaboration between bug and zookeeper at the Insectarium. A small amount of non-toxic paints are applied to the feet of our selected artistes and then allowed to amble, scramble and crawl over the canvases. With multiple individuals working on one painting (and extra legs to boot!) the end result is a colorful explosion of invertebrate expressionism. 

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50
11x14- $75
16x20 - $114

Sea Lion

These painting pinnipeds use a specially adapted paintbrush that they can grasp in their mouth. 

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50

Reptile & Amphibian Paintings

Snakes, turtles and lizards from the Herpetarium make unique artistic patterns as they slither or crawl through non-toxic paints and across the canvases. Our amphibians are watercolor artists, of course! 

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50
11x14- $75
16x20 - $114

Rhino & Hippo Paintings

Even the hefty pachyderms work on art pieces in their enrichment training. The Zoo's rhinos use their prehensile lips to spread non-toxic paints in various colors on the canvases. See video. Hippos have a completely different style and make unique artwork with their giant noses — a hippo kiss!

5x7 - $25
8x10 - $50

Animal Art FAQs

  • With several animals, our keepers can only work with certain size canvases. This helps maintain the integrity of the canvas and the quality of the painting. For example, an Aldabra tortoise will have a difficult time with a smaller canvas, given their weight. On the other hand, we usually stick to smaller sizes with larger mammals so that the keeper can easily manage the canvas while still allowing the animal to freely paint. When you send us your painting request, let us know which size you’re most interested in. If it’s unavailable, we will respond to let you know the next available size(s).

  • We do not guarantee a specific timeline for a painting on the waitlist. As an enrichment activity that requires a lot of supervision, painting is not done on a regimented schedule; it is done when keepers have the time within both the keeper’s and the animal’s daily routines. There are also seasonal issues with some animals. For example, sea lions generally do not paint often during their summer show season.

  • Not at this time.

  • Our paintings are not done on a request basis, they are a byproduct of enrichment sessions done for the animal’s own mental and physical stimulation. As such, we do not dictate color; our keepers choose which colors to use. However, though we cannot accommodate specific color requests, if we have something readily available that fits your specifications, we will reserve that painting for you.

  • Due to the high volume of requests that we receive, our inventory is very fluid. It is not feasible for us to share images of the paintings.

  • The keepers paint with the animals as a form of enrichment, to stimulate them mentally and/or physically. As such, the keepers are involved very much with this process and monitoring the animals’ reactions to it. They are unable to take photos. We do have some photos of the species that paint, which we will email to you after purchase, if available. Occasionally, we have had extra hands to take photos during the process, but they are representative photos, and will not depict your specific painting.

  • Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate order pickups due to staffing logistics and constraints. The paintings are only available via mail, but the cost of shipping is included in the price of the painting

  • As a non-profit, volunteer organization, we are unable to accommodate these requests. We store these paintings off-site, and have a single set shipping date each week.

  • Not to worry! We maintain these details separately; PayPal is only used to conduct the purchase

  • We do! We offer prints of certain species’ paintings for $10 each. They are on high-quality paper and easily matted or framed.

  • We do not have a dedicated phone line for AAZK or the animal art program, and do not use the phone to discuss orders. Our policy is to communicate strictly with email, in order to keep a written record of our transactions, to ensure there is no confusion about what you requested and what you are getting.  Due to the nature of our jobs, we are not often near a phone or computer. We run the animal art program as volunteers, and sometimes there are multiple members of the team who work together on specific orders. Our policy is to communicate strictly with email, in order to keep a written record of our transactions, to ensure there is no confusion about what you requested and what you are getting.

  • Animal behavior constantly changes as the animals move through different stages of the year. For example, we have to accommodate breeding and molting seasons in many animals. There is also the chance that our team is facilitating the introduction of a new animal in their area or caring for an animal exhibiting abnormal behavior, which prevents them from using this form of enrichment with a particular species. For several of those areas, we have opted to provide the general term: snake, turtle, bird, insect, etc. so that we can give you a painting that best fits your needs as soon as possible. We still indicate the species that created your specific painting on the back of the canvas.

  • We do receive paintings from other departments occasionally; please send us an inquiry and we’ll be honest with you about if that animal will paint. However, please be as specific as possible with which animal you are interested in.

  • We cannot take orders that say “one of everything”, or “please let me know when any new animals paint” - unfortunately, with multiple members of our team working with orders, we must be as specific as possible in our database, so that there is no confusion in communication. However, if you ask us about a specific animal or a specific set of animals, we will do our best to work with those requests.

  • Please provide a list with the specific animal(s) and sizes you are looking for. This helps ensure we do not miss anything in your order!

Animal Artwork Requests

To request an animal artwork painting, please email our Animal Art Coordinator at the following information. 

Mailing address (include city and state):
Art piece(s) and size:

  • Chimpanzee (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Gorilla (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Hellbender (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Hippo (5X7, 8X10)
  • Insect (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Monkey (5X7, 8X10, 11x14,)
  • Orangutan (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Penguin (5X7, 8X10, 11x14, 16x20)
  • Rhino (5X7, 8X10)
  • Sea Lion (5X7, 8X10, 11x14)
  • Snake (5X7, 8X10, 11x14)

Quantity of each piece:

Thank you for your interest in purchasing an animal painting from the Saint Louis Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. We are a group of dedicated animal care professionals and enthusiasts who are striving to make a difference in the animal care and conservation profession. As a result, most of our day is spent providing excellent care to our animals and we are rarely at a computer. Please allow up to 7 days for a response to inquiries and requests. Thank you for your patience.

All artwork is sold unframed. 

We are not able to take custom request orders including using specific paint colors.

Shipping is included in the cost of the artwork.