NAPLES, Fla. - If you are in the market for fine art or want to support wildlife conservation efforts, look no further than the Naples Zoo. Talented artists have been hard at work, creating wild paintings you can bid on.
"We have all the animals paint and some of them enjoy it a lot," said zookeeper, Bette Cannon.
With a little paint and a few strokes of his paw, Steelman, a 13-year-old cheetah, turns a blank canvas into something one-of-a-kind.
"He's actually on the older side, but he's doing very well as you can tell. He does great paintings and that's probably why he does so well. He just takes his time and does all of his footprints very intentionally," said zookeeper, Ashleigh Dickinson.
According to Dickinson, Steelman's inspiration is very primal.
"We do have to have to encourage him with food. Nobody paints for free. Nobody wants to be a staving artist!" she said.
The Naples Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), along with lions, lemurs, leopards, and bears have created 14 original pieces for the Wild Tracks Art Auction, an event benefiting cheetah conservation.
"This year we are doing it for cheetahs because we just got them in and it is an exciting thing since we haven't had cheetahs here in a long time," said Dickinson.
Last year, the auction raised $2,200 to help endangered species.
"It's important because they need help outside, they are a threatened species, and this money goes to help do whatever they can to help cheetahs," said Cannon.
The art auction is being held Thursday, November 15th from 7p.m. to 10p.m. at the Naples Zoo. Tickets can be bought at the door for $10 and include food and drinks. You must be 21 or older to attend.