March 14, 2021
Townsend’s Unique Painting Technique
- as seen by -Stephanie Graehling
Most of our animals that paint do so by holding a special paintbrush which they move on a canvas. Townsend, a 6-year-old California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, has his own unique way – he paints by blowing through his mouth.
Townsend learned a breath behavior where he exhales almost as if he were blowing out candles on a cake. Utilizing this behavior, trainers place dots of water color on a canvas, then ask Townsend to blow, and he spreads the paint across the canvas to create his very own special masterpiece. He can also blow a whistle.
Townsend finds this behavior very reinforcing. It is clearly as fun for him as it is for our aquarium trainers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Wild View is featuring posts by and about women and their contributions to science and conservation throughout March.