With nothing more than webbed feet and some paint, Kohl, an African Penguin at the Audubon Aquarium, made his mark on the hearts of sports fans and animal-lovers alike in a recent online video.
Watch as Kohl enters the room, seeming a little awkward at first, and then more sure-footed as black and gold paint are added to a palette. Once on the white paper, he seems to strut more confidently, moving from one side to the other with purpose.
Kohl has been painting since September 2012 as a part of the aquarium’s Backstage Penguin Pass — a program intended to create a more hands-on and interactive experience for visitors, said senior aviculturist Tom Dyer. Kohl isn’t the only painting penguin— there are other adults and some recently hatched chicks—but he has become the most famous since his online debut. The video was created by the aquarium to show its support for the New Orleans Saints in advance of their first-round playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. “We’re huge Saints fans at the aquarium and we really wanted to make a video,” said public relations manger Katie Smith.
Other zoos and aquariums have offered painting as a pastime activity for animals, from penguins and elephants to beluga whales. Such programs often help with fundraising. For the cost of $125 Backstage Penguin Pass, a non-member visiting the Audubon Aquarium’s can have a close-encounter with resident artists as they work. “It’s fun watching kids finger paint — it’s even more fun watching penguins do it.” Dyer said. In his experience, participants of the aquarium’s program “wind up with a lot of paint on their clothes” and “sometimes they get a little more than paint.”
At 25 years of age, which, according to Dyer, is about twice the life expectancy of a penguin in the wild, Kohl is also social media friendly. You can follow him on Twitter at @kohlthepenguin.
[video:197586|caption:An Audubon Aquarium African Penguin named Kohl paints a picture in support of the New Orleans Saints.]