The practice of creating art inspired by the animal kingdom is as old as the history of art itself. From cave paintings made by our ancestors thousands of years ago to the drawings, prints, sculpture and photographs of the Zoological Society of London; our fascination with animal images recognises the scientific, symbolic and emotional connections we have with our companions in the natural world.

Explore some animal artworks online. Look at ‘Lion Resting’ by Rembrandt, ‘Bull’s Head’ by Picasso, ‘Carolina Parrot’ by John James Audubon, and ‘Cat Study’ by Chloe Cheese.

Zoological Society of London; a zebra. Coloured etching by J Wellcome

Zoological Society of London; a zebra. Coloured etching by J Wellcome


Have fun with either of the following animal art-based activities:

Patterns and textures

Divide a sheet of paper into six equal sections. Use pencils, paints, fabric, or wax crayons to create the colour, pattern, or texture of a different animal in each section. Think hard about the feeling of the skin or the fur of each animal. Try to replicate this in your choice of materials, colours and mark making. When you have finished show your friends and see if they can guess which animals you have chosen. Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way: snake, elephant, zebra, leopard, tortoise, butterfly, peacock…

Creature collage: fantastic beasts

Hybrid creatures such as mermaids, gryphons and winged horses appear in myths and legends.  These are imagined creatures created from different animal parts. Have a go at creating some yourself. Collect a selection of animal images from newspapers and magazines. Carefully cut out different parts, disregarding the bits you don’t want to keep. Put the pieces together to create a brand-new fantastic creature of your own.


  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Wax crayons
  • Watercolour and acrylic paints
  • Textured surfaces
  • Wildlife magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks


Use wax crayons on paper to create rubbings of different textures you think are like animal skin. If you find using scissors fiddly, ask a helper to cut out your animal pieces for you. 

Artist Inspiration: David Hockney’s Dogs; Sophie Ryder; Henry Moore’s Sheep, Zoological Society of London