While the subjects of their paintings swung in their cages around them, dozens of amateur artists attended the Gibbon Conservation Center’s “Ape Art Painting Party” Saturday.
After purchasing their $45 ticket, those in attendance were given an easel, canvas, paint, brushes and beverages of their choice, including wine, while an art instructor led them through a gibbon painting session.
Alma Rodriguez, the operations and development manager for the Gibbon Conservation Center, said events, like the one held Saturday, give people another excuse to enjoy the gibbons while also supporting them.
“We spend about $3,000 a month on feeding the gibbons, so all of the money that gets brought in on the weekends with these types of events generally goes first thing to feeding the gibbons,” said Rodriguez.
The Gibbon Center, in Bouquet Canyon at the edge of Santa Clarita city limits, is generally open only in the mornings so that visitors can take a tour and hear the gibbons “sing,” or all together do a territorial mating call. However, for special events, the Gibbon Center staff chooses to open up the facility in the afternoon to show a different side to the animal.
“I think that a lot of the time, people think of (gibbons) as an obscure animal living in the rainforest,” said Rodriguez. “And then they come out here and hear about the gibbons’ plight, that all 20 species are endangered, and the most endangered is down to only 25 individuals, and they start to realize how important they are.”
Jen Stebbins and Jolie Hidaka, who were at the center for the painting party, said they were regulars at the Gibbon Center, and take any opportunity they can to support them since their first visit less than a year ago.
“We found out about the Gibbon Conservation Center last December, and came for a tour and fell in love with the place, and have kept up with all the events,” said Hidaka. “And who can resist trying to paint a gibbon and kicking back and relaxing with them?”
“I’m here for the gibbons, they’re my babies,” said Stebbins. “We fell in love with it. We’ve been trying to stay involved and support it ever since.”
The Gibbon Conservation Center is set to hold a handful of upcoming events, including their regularly scheduled “Yoga with the Gibbons” events held on the first Saturday of the month.
“Keep an open mind and come on out,” said Rodriguez. “Everyone is here to have a good time.”
For more information about the Gibbon Conservation Center, visit www.gibboncenter.org.