Charles Paddock Zoo gives its denizens a chance to let their creativity shine

By Blake Ashley Frino-Gerl of Atascadero News

ATASCADERO — On Aug. 6, The Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero gave the opportunity for guests to come and observe animal residents create abstract art. In addition, zoo visitors were able to do their own arts and crafts, while local artists showcased their artwork for sale and provided demonstrations and workshops in which guests were able to learn drawing and painting techniques. According to Atascadero Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish, the annual event, which is not a fundraiser nor a city-sponsored event since Atascadero owns the zoo, was included in the admission fee. 

Flavia Parotti, one of the zookeepers, said the event began five years ago — despite taking a two-year break for the pandemic. It has grown each year to be more of a local and community-thriving event. It would be an understatement to say that the real headliner is the animals. Parotti said when the animals paint “they have fun as a form of enrichment.” 


Paint is put on a table along with the canvases and the animals will “walk over to paint and then walk on the canvas and they leave their marks,” added Parotti.

Animal artists this year included a desert tortoise, binterongs, mongoose lemurs, meerkats, a ball python, and a hedgehog. All sales earned from animal residents’ paintings go to the Charles Paddock Zoo. In addition, according to Parotti, one student artist put forth all her sale proceeds going to the zoo.

Local artists included in the event were Central Coast Seaweed Pressing, Hambly Farms, Amandalee Design, and Turquoise Giraffe, who crocheted specific animals to correlate with the zoo residents. Paradise Shaved Ice provided a tasty treat for guests to enjoy while listening to music. With almost 500 people in attendance, the event provided mutual support of local businesses, but more importantly, the ability to see animals in a unique and more freeing element having fun.