A towel animal is a depiction of an animal created by folding small towels. It is conceptually similar to origami, but uses towels rather than paper. Some common towel animals are elephants, snakes, rabbits and swans.
The exact originator of towel animals is unknown, but their popularity is often attributed to Carnival Cruise Lines. The ancestors of the towel animals are perhaps handkerchief animals or napkin folds.
Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Hotels and Holland America Line cruises will often place towel animals on a patron's bed as part of their nightly turndown service. Towel animals are also appearing in higher-end hotels and resorts such as Grupo Vidanta's Grand Luxxe Residence Clubs in Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya.
Carnival offers their guests a book by pre-ordering before the cruise, or on board ship in the Formalities shop. Holland America makes a similar offer. There are several other books available on the subject and these books illustrate how one can enhance the towel animals by the simple addition of cut-out eyes and button noses. Some of the creations in the gallery require the use of multiple towels and at times, hand towels or washcloths. The Grand Luxxe uses flowers or flower petals and the tips of palm branches to enhance some of their creations such as the one pictured to the left.
- Carnival Towel Creations, published by Navigate Express. The third edition contains an illustrated guide to making nearly 40 different towel animals
- Campbell, Deanna Towel Folding 101, Barnes & Noble Books (April 2006) ISBN 0-7607-7959-7
- Jenkins, Alison The Lost Art of Towel Origami, Andrews McMeel Publishing (October 2005) ISBN 0-7407-5563-3
- Mulanax Carol How to make a towel monkey and other cruise ship favorites , Tiny Tortoise Publishing (August 2006) ISBN 0-9787477-0-4
- Holland America Line (2007). Towel Creations - 40 Designs. New Holland + Publishers. ASIN B001M96NRW.
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