To Whom It May Concern: An Investigation of the Art of Elephants

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9780393022407: To Whom It May Concern: An Investigation of the Art of Elephants

An account of the remarkable behavior and graphic drawings of a thirteen-year-old female Asian elephant and of the various responses to her "work" is supplemented with fifty reproductions of the drawings

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From Publishers Weekly:

Prior to this book by Syracuse, N.Y., zookeeper Gucwa and Syracuse Post-Standard science editor Ehmann, no one had brought to the public's attention that elephants like to draw, and will, without training or reward, doodle spontaneously on the ground with a pebble or stick. In the case of Siri, a 13-year-old Asian elephant, her efforts were noted by Gucwa, her caretaker, who provided drawing materials and collected the results of her endeavors. Her drawings (50 of them are reproduced here) have been admired by artists such as Willem de Kooning and their significance discussed by evolutionists and cognitive researchers, some of whom affirm artistic intent of the drawings, while others attribute this activity to the animal's boredom. Interspersed with lore that demonstrates elephantine intelligence are relevant literary quotations. As de Kooning observes, "That's a damned talented elephant." Foreign rights: Norton. November 25
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Elephants appear to have a natural urge to use sticks or stones to scratch patterns on the ground. In 1980-82, Gucwa, then caretaker at the Burnet Park Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y., explored this phenomenon with a young Asian elephant named Siri, accustoming her to use pencil and paper so that the drawings could be preserved. This book, written with Syracuse newspaperman Ehmann, is illustrated by Siri's drawings. A variety of opinions about the drawings from artists, elephant handlers, developmental psychologists, and others are presented. The basic thesis is that the drawings represent real art that changed and improved over time, and that elephant intellect must therefore be accorded greater respect. While that idea may be overstated, the question of elephant intelligence deserves further, controlled study. Margery C. Coombs, Zoology Dept., Univ. Of Massachusetts, Amherst
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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