Meet The Suda Elephant That Paints Pictures Using Its Trunk For The Health And Wellbeing Of His Herd

Imagine if an elephant could show you what it sees, thinks, and feels. Crazy thought?

An immensely talented 20-year old elephant named Suda, and a seven-year-old male counterpart named Tunwa can do just that … with paint – not just splashes of color either – but art with trees, animals, mountains, blue skies, and other subject matter beautifully rendered on canvas.

Prior to the pandemic, Suda and Tunwa were the star attractions at the Maetaeng Elephant Park & Clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand, painting for scores of visiting tourists at-a-time as a way to raise money to care for and feed more than 80 elephants living at the park. Times were good.

Then Covid-19 hit, grinding tourism to a halt – the very lifeblood and funding source to care for the elephants. At first paralyzed by the events, the park soon pivoted and Suda, the world-renowned painting elephant and Tunwa continued to paint for the health and wellbeing of their herd, but now for visitors to their website, Elephant Art Online, the original seller of Elephant Art in Thailand. Check out a sample of the Elephant Art here.

First-time visitors to the site are often stunned by what they see. It doesn’t seem possible that an elephant could produce such beautiful works of art. And those who purchase a painting are directly supporting the lives of Suda and all the elephants at the park who depend on the proceeds for food and medical care. Each painting comes with photos and a video of the art being produced, in addition to a certificate of authenticity (QR Code). Elephant Art Online also provides free worldwide shipping.

Moods Matter

Each painting takes an elephant a little over four hours to produce, including snack breaks and time off to walk around the park and eat bananas, one of their favorite treats. The elephants are never forced to paint; when they lose interest, they come back later to begin again.

Due to the popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – digital assets representing real-world objects like art (Tunwa and Suda paintings), music, and videos – Elephant Art Online founded an NFT branch called BitTrunks. BitTrunks recently released the world’s first-ever 1 of 1 NFT art piece, the Tree of Life, made by Tunwa, along with a collection of 30 other pieces of authentic elephant paintings for purchase on OpenSea, the first and largest peer-to-peer marketplace for NFTs.

“The value of each available art piece is immense, whether you’re a collector adding a crown jewel to your collection or a savvy trader looking to find a gem to resell,” said Dwain Schenck, co-head of BitTrunks. “From the moment a collector makes a purchase from BitTrunks, she has become the proud owner of what is easily one of the most unique NFTs in the world.

From an investor perspective, purchasing an Elephant Art NFT is a larger-than-life opportunity. Our goal is to be able to use NFTs as a funding source instead of relying on tourism. We plan to expand this concept and help other struggling animal parks in Thailand and elsewhere.”

Maetaeng Elephant Park was formed in 1996 to aid elephants that were free but had nowhere to go after the 1989 ban on logging in Thailand. Seeing increased numbers of elephants forced to roam city streets and take up work in the illegal logging trade, the park decided to create a safe and friendly work environment where visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand would be able to see these majestic animals up close and help support the park’s efforts.

In 2000, elephant handlers at the park started to humanely teach a few select elephants how to paint. The idea was to raise enough money so that the park could build a much-needed elephant hospital. This dream was achieved in 2006 when the park became the first government-licensed elephant park to operate an elephant hospital in Northern Thailand, treating more than 800 elephants in the area, free of charge.

The elephant has been a national symbol of Thailand for more than 800 years and is an icon at the very heart of its peoples history and culture. Elephant populations have experienced significant declines over the last century. An argument can be made that a well-run elephant camp like Maetaeng Elephant Park provides a safe and caring environment for the elephants and supports the mahout and their families, who care for the animals.

Elephant Art Online is also bringing more awareness to the importance of animal welfare and the preservation and protection of animals – especially the elephant.

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