The pandas at Moscow Zoo have taken up painting lessons to raise money for abandoned animals but animal rights activists have criticised the move.
According to local media, Zhui and partner Dindin arrived at Moscow Zoo in the western Russian capital in April as part of a conservation programme and will stay in Moscow for the next 15 years.
Since arriving in Russia, zoo experts have kitted out the panda enclosure with various obstacles and features to study their behaviour. And now the two adorable pandas have started art classes twice a week, according to reports.
A zoo spokesperson said: “The animals are very curious and enthusiastic about the new activity.”
Reports said that zoo bosses plan to sell the pandas’ paintings to raise money for abandoned animals.
The pandas first had to learn how to hold a brush before applying strokes to the paper in front of them.
To make it easier for them, zoo staff placed the brushes inside bamboo sticks.
Zoo staff noted that they are using the most eco-friendly paints available on the market.
However the vice president of PETA Asia, Jason Baker, told Central European News (CEN): “The straight solution to the abandoned animal crisis is about enforcing spray and neuter policy, instead of making pandas in captivity learn painting.
“It is nothing more than a way to get customers through the gates. Plush pandas and panda posters and T-shirts bring in millions of additional dollars.
“The Moscow Zoo should send Zhui and Dingding to a sanctuary, where they belong. As with animals in other zoos in Russia, the UK, the US, and elsewhere, these pandas are denied everything that’s natural and important to them, and every aspect of their lives is manipulated and controlled.”
Netizen ‘Thisisbasya’ said: “I would love to own a painting from this artist.”
‘Eskate81’ commented: “This is so adorable.”
‘IreneMayJuly’ wrote: “I wonder how their imagination works…”
A 2007 report showed that 239 pandas live in captivity in China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas were recording living in captivity outside China at 18 zoos in 13 different countries.
One study estimates that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild while a 2006 study using DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000.
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Story By: Anastasia Smirnova, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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