The elephant is Thailand 鈥檚 national animal. Its role in Thailand 鈥檚 culture was to transport logs and Royalties. Things change. A century ago, the advent of motorized vehicles retired the elephants as a means of transportation. Recently, the new anti-logging laws brought about by the widespread deforestation in Thailand left more than 3,000 elephants and their mahouts out of work. Lucky are the elephants that were 鈥渟 aved 鈥?and are now thriving in elephant parks. Luckier are those who were taught new 鈥渟 kills 鈥?by their mahouts in order for 鈥渕 aster and beast 鈥?to survive. Who would have thought that Asian elephants have the instinctive inclination to paint? Mahouts soon discovered that elephants have the capacity to learn how to paint. It has been observed that elephants in captivity will naturally reach out for a stick and 鈥渄 oodle 鈥?on the floor of its enclosed space. Doodling on the sand is different from using a paint brush to paint on a piece of paper but, the possibility was there. The mahouts soon figured out how to teach their wards to 鈥減 aint 鈥?and soon enough, elephants painting to earn their keep became a 鈥渕 ust see 鈥?to believe. The first batch of elephants that were taught to paint did so because they were unemployed. However, there is a large percentage of elephants that are now taught to paint at an early age. Baby elephants as young as 2 years old are trained by their mahouts basic commands then graduate to performing skills and then (if they have the talent) move on to learning how to paint. Training an elephant how to paint is not an easy task. Mahouts teach their elephants the proper way to hold a brush with their trunks, customizing paintbrushes in the process. It could take more than a month for a young elephant to be taught this trick. They are then taught how to 鈥渟 plash 鈥?paint on a piece of paper. At the start, mahouts are the ones who select and mix the colors for the elephants and prompt the elephants when a painting is finished. It was observed that as an elephant masters the fundamental techniques, it develops its own distinctive style. Not all elephant art is the same though. Elephants from the cool North use bold primary hues in their paintings. Their brushstrokes tend to be curvy and broken. Elephants from the Central region tend to use darker colors such as black, forest green and violet. Elephants from the South (Phuket) use tertiary colors like 鈥?magenta, plum, and mustard, aquamarine and red-orange. These elephants 鈥渕 ix 鈥?the colors on the paper. Are these elephant paintings real 鈥渁 rt 鈥? Conservatives and purist will disagree because for them, art is an expression of one 鈥檚 self. Though elephants are intelligent animals, can they really express themselves through painting? The painting sessions could be therapeutic for the elephants and their mahouts. Their 鈥渁 rt 鈥? colorful dots, dashes and squiggly lines, are expressive enough for an elephant. It is not every day that one sees an elephant that can paint. Book your luxury Phuket accommodation and visit Phuket Zoo and watch these elephants paint, dance and play football. Book early and get big discounts and freebies.