OKC ZOO IS SELLING WORLD’S FIRST DIGITAL ART NFT DESIGNED BY RESIDENT ORANGUTAN
OKC Zoo’s 21-year-old Sumatran orangutan, Elok, assisted by digital technology and his caretakers, creates world’s first non-fungible token designed by an orangutan, to be auctioned online with proceeds benefitting orangutan conservation.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) have partnered with designers to devise a unique animal enrichment enabling the Zoo’s male Sumatran orangutan, Elok, 21, to create digital artwork available for purchase as a non-fungible token (NFT) via an international auction on Friday, August 19, International Orangutan Day. Funds raised from this auction will support the conservation of wild orangutans and their habitat.
NFTs are digital assets that signify unique, virtual collectibles, such as art, that cannot be copied or replaced
This novel creative endeavor is the result of the design team at Megafauna Studios, Becky Scheel and Mathieu Kuhne, reaching out to the OKC Zoo’s Director of Conservation Science, Dr. Rebecca Snyder, to propose a new form of digital animal enrichment.
Animal enrichment is any stimuli given to animals in human care that stimulates their senses and activates natural behaviors as well as behavioral diversity. OKC Zoo provides all of the animals in its care with a variety of enrichment, including access to paint and canvas – often with a human caretaker assisting. The resulting work is sold to OKC Zoo visitors through the Art Gone Wild Program, with proceeds supporting the Zoo’s conservation programs.
Elok, would engage with a 2-foot digital brush provided to him and a 3x4-foot screen projected on a wall just outside his indoor habitat. When Elok moved the digital brush, a motion detecting device made from a modified Xbox captured the brush’s movement and projected the design onto the digital screen. Both the finished creative product and the act of creation were recorded. After a few tries, each rewarded by edible treats including animal crackers and prunes, Elok quickly became adept with the digital wand and created a series of stunning digital artworks.
Elok’s artwork will be auctioned off on International Orangutan Day, Friday, August 19, 2022 through the world’s largest NFT market place, Opensea.io. Elok designed a total of 21 art NFTs and 20 will be available for purchase via Opensea.io at various times. The OKC Zoo will retain one of Elok’s NFTs for historic purposes. Net proceeds from the sale will be collected by OZS, the non-profit organization that supports the Zoo. The OKC Zoo will then allocate the funds to non-profit science-based conservation organizations working to protect wild orangutans and other endangered species.
The Zoo will continue to share updates on Elok and the NFT auction on its social channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
About Sumatran Orangutans
All three species of orangutans—Sumatran, Bornean and Tapanuli—are listed as critically endangered in the wild. Globally, 60 percent of primate species are now threatened with extinction and 75 percent have declining populations. This condition exists because of extensive habitat loss, increased bushmeat hunting, and illegal trade. The OKC Zoo is playing an increasingly critical role in saving wildlife, including orangutans. In 2016 and 2017, the Zoo partnered with Rainforest Trust to protect forest in Sumatra and Borneo, which provides habitat for orangutans and many other endangered species. In addition to caring for Elok, the OKC Zoo is also home to a female Sumatran orangutan, Negara, 28.
Join the OKC Zoo and Bob Moore Subaru on International Orangutan Day, Friday, August 19 to learn what you can to help in protecting this amazing species and its habitat. Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered in the wild. Globally, 60 percent of primate species are now threatened with extinction and 75 percent have declining populations, and they need our help. Event activities are set to take place by the Zoo’s orangutan habitat, Great EscApe from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and are free with regular Zoo admission. Visit www.okczoo.org for additional details.