The battle begins: Gorillas vs. elephants at the Sedgwick County Zoo


There’s a battle between gorillas and elephants at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

They are raising money for animal conservation at this year’s Zoobilee

Stephanie, the elephant, a 47-year-old matriarch in her community, is going head-to-head with 27-year-old Billy, a leader and the largest member in his gorilla forest. 

“Stephanie was challenged by Billy the gorilla to have a paint-off, and we discussed it with her, and she accepted the challenge,” said Lauren Ripple, an elephant zookeeper at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

“I said Billy, what do you think? Do we want to put our money where our mouth is? And, prove to the world that we are the best? And he gave me the thumbs up,” said Michelle Birket, a gorilla zookeeper at the Sedgwick County Zoo. 

A blue work of art completed by Billy, is a fan favorite by his biggest supporter and brother, Tommy. 
“Billy can paint a variety of canvases, anything from a small 3×5 to a up to a 2 foot by 3 foot painting,” said Birket.

And a yellow one abstract piece was carefully designed and painted by Stephanie.

“She’s a great artist,” said Ripple. “She’s been doing it for four decades.”

People can vote on Facebook for their favorite painting, giving the winner bragging rights in the animal kingdom.

“This one is more busy,” said Wichitan Sarah Belsan when looking at the two paintings. “I guess I just like the simplicity of the gorilla one.”

“I think I like the elephant one better just because I like the metallic colors that he used,” said Adrianna Palacioz, a Wichita resident when comparing the two paintings. 

While it’s a tight race, both zookeepers are confident in their team to take the win.

“Stephanie did the better painting obviously,” said Ripple.

“Obviously, it’s the gorillas,” said Birket. “That’s not even a question in my mind.”

Voting on Facebook ends Friday, August 31st. 

Both the paintings will be in the silent auction at Zoobilee on September 8.

The money raised will go towards conservation of the animals. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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