Written by Reuters
17 Jun, 2019 | 4:08 pm
Reuters – France’s most famous orangutan delighted zoo visitors with her artistic antics on Thursday (June 13), three days ahead of her 50th birthday.
Nenette is not an ordinary orangutan – she is the resident artist of the zoo at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, where the Borneo-born ape arrived as a three-year-old in 1972.
Chief caretaker Christelle Hano, who joined the zoo in 1999, has been taking care of Nenette for the last 20 years.
“I think they could be paintings done by a three-year-old child. I think she’s just as gifted as other people and that art isn’t up for debate,” she said of Nenette’s watercolour and crayon works.
She started painting many years ago, not being forced nor trained, and now indulges in the pastime several times a week, sometimes using paper and sometimes painting on the glass which separates her from the visitors to the zoo.
Zoo veterinarian Aude Bourgeois said Nenette’s paintings were sometimes sold to raise funds for a new orangutan enclosure, with one painting having been sold for thousands of euros.
The gifted great ape is due to celebrate her 50th birthday with a grand party at the zoo on Sunday (June 16), where she will be treated to a birthday cake and will share her talents in an art workshop.
Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimating that there are only 100,000 remaining.
Whilst their lifespan of the Bornean orangutan is between 35 to 45 years in the wild, they can live up to around 60 years in conservation, and the record thus far is held by an orangutan in Tokyo who died at 62 in 2017.
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