Peanut butter muse for Cochrane, Ont., polar bear artist Ganuk, keepers say

Associated Press

COCHRANE, Ont. - How do you get a polar bear to paint?

The keepers at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in northern Ontario say very carefully — and with a lot of peanut butter.

The keepers spread Ganuk's favourite treat on walls in his holding pen and place various colours of edible, non-toxic paints near the entrance and paper on the floor.

Once Ganuk has circled the pen a few times, he's coaxed out of the pen so his artwork can be retrieved.

Ganuk's original art is priced between $50 for an unframed piece to $130 for one that's large and framed.

Zoos have long used painting as an activity for primates and elephants, but the Cochrane facility believes it's the only one currently painting with polar bears.

"On the day he painted with red I had to post what we were doing with him on Facebook and tell guests so people wouldn't think he had an accident," said Karen Cummings, manager of the polar bear habitat.

"It diluted a little bit till he looked positively pink," Cummings said.

"He had it all over him — but it was great for sales that day."

Ganuk was born on Nov. 30, 2009, in captivity at the Zoo Sauvage in St-Felicien, Que., and has been in Cochrane since the end of May 2012.

Ganuk is owned by the Toronto Zoo and is in Cochrane on loan.

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