10 Controversial Works of Art Using Animals as Canvas

1Decorated Camels

This beautifully shorn camel hails from the city of Bikaner in northwest Rajastan, a state in India. Every year in January, the state government organizes a camel festival where beautifully decorated camels like this one are put on display. The intricate images are sheared using a pair of scissors.

2Anatomical Horses

Professional anatomist, bio-mechanist, author and artist Gillian Higgins uses her artistic ability and anatomical knowledge to paint the skeleton and other systems on the side of the horse, bringing it "inside out."

According to Higgins, this is a fun way of understanding more about anatomy, physiology and conditioning. It can also can improve performance, enhance well-being and reduce the risk of injury in horses.

3Adorned Elephants

Adorning pachyderms has been elevated to an art form at an annual festival in Jaipur, India. For the event, the elephants are dressed in their finest costumes. Photographer Charles Fréger traveled to Jaipur to capture the elephants in all their glory— bright with paint, bangles, and drapes.

4iPad Turtles

The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) hadn't even officially opened its doors to the public when one of its exhibitions was already causing massive controversy. Cai Guo-Qiang's installation Moving Ghost Town featured three African Sulcata tortoises roaming around a rooftop enclosure, each with two iPads affixed to its shell. The gadgets displayed video footage of local ghost towns. The AAM claimed the artwork was “cultivating a site-specific approach to culture and history,” but animal rights activists have slammed it as outright animal abuse.

5Snail Graffiti

Graffiti snails were seen roaming London after being daubed with paint by artist Slinkachu for a project in 2008.

The London artist used the mollusks' shells for a series of designs dubbed "Inner City Snail - a slow-moving street art project."

One was given a graffiti-style urban revamp complete with a new name (John) spelled out across its shell. Another had the Tube logo painted on it, and even acquired a couple of unexpected passengers. Slinkachu was keen to point out that non-toxic paints were used.

6Body Painted Cows

In a bid to raise awareness of a drought that ravaged the farming community in South Australia, body paint artist Emma Hack painted a herd of cows for a photo series.

Playing with colors and shapes, she created optical illusions on some of the cows, making them meld into the scenery. With images of birds, wings and a Dalí-inspired melting clock painted on them, the cows became moving masterpieces as they grazed silently.

Part of the proceeds of the sales of her prints went to the South Australian Farmer's Federation.

7Tattooed Pigs

Belgian artist Wim Delvoye makes tattoos on live pigs and pig skin. The artist is vegetarian and uses pigs only for the work of art and not for food. Delvoye is not merely an artist, but also a "provocateur." We can see many animal activists being provoked by this.

8Sprayed Cows

Live cow stenciled with Andy Warhol's portrait, in "Turf War"

From July 18-21, 2003, Banksy hosted an exhibition in a London warehouse called "Turf War." At the time, many people were just starting to jump on the Banksy bandwagon and hadn't quite grasped his personality yet. This exhibition featured painted live cows – and as could be expected – many animal rights groups were up in arms about the show. One activist even chained herself to the railings of the warehouse.

9Groomed Poodles

For most dog owners, grooming involves occasionally trimming their beloved pets' hair and maybe attaching a fancy collar, but for some it is a much more serious business.

Photographer Ren Netherland, 51, from Clearwater, Florida, traveled more than 19,000 miles across the U.S. in a mobile studio to visit conventions which showcased the bizarre craze for cutting and dying dogs into different forms – an art called "creative grooming." Some of the groomers use semi-permanent hair color brands. The poodle shown here has been transformed into a parrot.

10Tattooed Cat

A disturbing new trend has surfaced in Russia: cat owners getting their felines tattooed with elaborate, colorful designs. A young Russian woman, Oksana Popova, had her rare Canadian Hairless cat Mickey put under general anesthesia for three hours while an image of King Tutankhamen was etched onto the cat's chest.

The tattoo artist Anatoly Keksel performed the work at his TattoonHamon Tattoo Parlor in Russia.