Chumash artist John Khus, who created the mural, will unveil it with SLO Beaver Brigade

ATASCADERO — Beavers and their central ecological role in water and in culture will be celebrated on Saturday, April 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Charles Paddock Zoo at 9100 Morro Road in Atascadero, with the unveiling of a mural by Chumash artist John Khus. This mural has been made possible through the California Coastal Commission WHALE TAIL® grants program and the San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade in collaboration with the Charles Paddock Zoo and the City of Atascadero. The Coastal Commission WHALE TAIL® grants support experiential education and stewardship of the California coast and its watersheds.

The art of John Khus has been recognized by Chumash leaders as “striking, beautiful, unique, carrying the voices of our ancestral artists with whom he has walked all his life.” He has exhibited in galleries throughout the Central Coast and taught art and cultural heritage at the 2023 inaugural Chumash Heritage and Marine Science Camp in Oceano. His original artwork resulted in the “Tomol Rides Wishtoyo” mural in Cambria, which was recently presented with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. 

“The Beaver are my relatives, as are all the animals, plants, land, water, and air,” Khus said. “So, the importance of this mural is the same as someone might give to a family portrait or ancestral painting.”


The mural unveiling will include remarks by representatives from the SLO Beaver Brigade, and the artist. 

“The mural represents the beavers tending the waters from the Salinas River all the way to the ocean in Monterey Bay,” said Audrey Taub of the SLO Beaver Brigade. “I love the representation of all of the life forms that depend on the beavers. The three young beavers in the center of it all are just innocently doing their job of being beavers, unaware that all of the other critters around the ponds need them in order to live.” 

About the SLO Beaver Brigade

The SLO Beaver Brigade, a local organization fiscally sponsored by Ecologistics, Inc., began in 2020 to raise awareness around beavers in San Luis Obispo County and the work beavers do to replenish the groundwater, provide fire refugia and increase the quality and quantity of water in the creeks and rivers. The Beaver Brigade also brings process-based restoration techniques to SLO County, along with beaver management tools to allow for people and beavers to share habitat. 

The SLO Beaver Brigade focuses on education and strong public participation in watershed stewardship through river cleanups, citizen science surveys, tours, public art, and trail signage. The SLO Beaver Brigade frequently offers presentations and tours of beaver habitat on a donation basis to the public. To learn more about the Beaver Brigade, sign up for a tour or donate to their efforts, visit

Feature Image: Chumash artist John Khus puts his signature on a beaver mural he created at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. The mural will be unveiled at the zoo on Saturday, April 20, at 10:30 a.m. Contributed Photo