Dolphins at IMMS learn to paint for new interactive program

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - You may recall the story of Chance, the dolphin that was near death three years ago, when he washed ashore on a beach in Alabama. Not only has he recovered from his injuries, he's also learned to get creative with a paint brush.

He's the star of a new "Paint with a Dolphin" interactive program at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.

"He definitely is very into the painting," said trainer Lisa Crawford. "He enjoys it very much; probably the most I've seen from a dolphin."

His paint brush is made with a foam pool noodle. But Chance the dolphin knows what to do once those colors are on the bristles and the custom made brush is in his mouth.

"He likes to do different strokes. He likes to go side to side, up and down. And I think his favorite are little swirl," said the trainer.

Two other dolphins have also been taught to paint, but Chance is the big star. He's also the best known dolphin; nursed back to health at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies after stranding on an Alabama beach three years ago.

"This is amazing. This animal that was almost dead, is now becoming very creative. And it's a great enrichment tool for these animals. They play, they enjoy it," said Dr. Moby Solangi.

The director jokes that Chance is now the van Gogh at IMMS. Trainer Lisa Crawford calls him "spunky".  Always in motion.

"He constantly wants to be moving. He doesn't want to stand still for any amount of time. He wants to learn new things, he wants to move around. And he just really likes to have fun," she explained.

The public is now invited, by reservation, to join the fun. For $75 you can hold the small canvas and "Paint with a Dolphin."

"We've made his life very creative and productive and enjoyable," said Dr. Solangi.

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