‘Elephant Painting an Elephant’: Is Facebook Video of Suda Real?

February 13, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

A Facebook post that’s gone viral shows an elephant in Thailand named Suda painting a picture of an elephant.

The post–which has more than 400,000 shares on the social media site. The video was posted on YouTube in 2009 but it resurfaced recently.

It was captured at the Maetaeng Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

However, it is worth noting that the elephant is trained to paint that picture and it didn’t just spontaneously do it.

And there’s been websites set up to sell elephant artwork.

“However, although these animals may be creating artworks in a purely physical sense, critics contend that the elephants participating in this activity are not actually ‘painting’ in any meaningful sense of the word,” hoax debunking site Snopes writes.

“They aren’t engaging in any form of creativity, much less abstractly making free-form portraits of whatever tickles their pachydermic fancies at the moment; rather, they’re simply actors performing in tourist trap attractions in Thailand, where they do nothing more than outline and color specific drawings they’ve been painstakingly trained to replicate — and they manage that much only while receiving a good deal of prompting and guidance throughout the process from their mahout (trainers).”

According to a Daily Mail article in 2009, there’s apparently a large number of fakes as well that are sold.