There was no portrait of the elephant as a young pachyderm at a recent fair in Gainesville, Florida. The elephant, named Luke, was scheduled to paint at the Tioga arts festival but was pulled from the schedule following an outcry from animal advocates.
"I think it is morally wrong to coerce these smart animals to do something like this," Gladys Cofrin, an animal activist and president of the Wagmore Foundation, told the Gainesville Sun. "It gives children the wrong idea about animals and elephants. It's not a natural behavior."
Not everyone was as measured as Cofrin, unfortunately, as Luke and his owner also received death threats. The Gainesville Fine Arts Association decided to cancel Luke's appearance, according to the Sun, and he remains at an elephant zoo called Two Tails Ranch.
Elephants made to paint have a long and controversial history. There's no evidence that Luke was treated inhumanely, but at some tourist destinations, trainers may teach elephants to make brushstrokes with their trunks via inhumane methods, such as goading with sharpened prods called bullhooks.