If someone compares you to a chimp, you should probably take it as a compliment, as our primate cousins can be quite creative!
A 37-year old retired chimpanzee named Brent (who only paints with his tongue!) recently won a special Chimpanzee Art Contest held by the The Humane Society of the United States, where more than 27,000 people voted on their favorite painting created by a chimp living in a U.S. sanctuary. The winning sanctuaries will receive grants from the Humane Society to help care for more chimps retired from entertainment, animal research and the worldwide pet trade.
The winning entries were chosen by online voters and renowned primatologist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall, who is considered to be the foremost expert on chimpanzees.
Brent won his sanctuary in Keithville, La. $10,000, while two runner-ups from Florida won $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. Dr. Goodall's choice chimp painting won Cheetah from Save the Chimps, Fort Pierce, Fla. another $5,000 in grant money. The six other sanctuary chimps who competed in the contest were also given $500 grants for their participation.
"We cannot thank these sanctuaries enough for providing their chimpanzee residents with such peaceful and enriching lives," said Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society. "They deserve the public's support for the amazing work they are doing and will continue to do as hundreds more chimpanzees make their way to retirement after decades in laboratories."
Creating artwork is just one of the enrichment activities retired chimps can take part in at the sanctuaries. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are roughly 1,100 chimpanzees living in "labratories, entertainment facilities, private residences, and unaccredited facilities" across the country, and in June, the National Institutes of Health announced their plan to retire about 90 percent of the 360 government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.
Click here to see the paintings the chimpanzees created for the contest, including the winning piece that Dr. Jane Goodall chose.