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Elephant Plays Harmonica (Video)

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Shanthi playing a harmonica.

Elephants are musical creatures too. A new video that went viral this week proved that elephants have the same taste for playing music as humans.

The video was posted by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in early May and documented a 36-year-old elephant named Shanthi that found her way to instruments placed around her enclosure and learned to play music on them.

The keeper made sure to point out in the video that she doesn’t force Shanthi to play the instruments but that the elephant does it all on her own.

“When the elephant keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo hear the sound of a harmonica, it’s not the radio they’ve left on. Instead, it’s the Zoo’s 36-year-old Asian elephant, Shanthi, who, unsolicited, has a propensity for coming up with her own ditties using whatever instruments the keepers have provided,” reads the YouTube video caption.

In the video, Shanthi used include harmonicas, horns and other noisemakers to concoct musical pieces. The keeper noted that what makes Shanthi’s musical pieces so special is that, “Musically they really do have a beginning, a middle and an end,” and that “They have a repetitive part that might have some beat that you could actually follow to it and it has a big crescendo at the end.”

The keepers gave Shanthi the instruments after noticing that she liked to make noise with objects more than the zoo’s other two elephants.

“According to keepers, she will use her trunk to cover anything with a hole in it and blow until it makes a sound—and will often coax the objects to get different types of sounds from it,” reads the YouTube video caption. “She taps objects with her trunk and flaps her ears against objects that make noise. Now they give the melodious pachyderm noisemakers as a form of enrichment.”

The zoo said visitors are invited to come and experience the music on their own, according to the video description, “Visitors to the Zoo can watch an elephant demonstration, which sometimes includes Shanthi’s musical skills, at 11 a.m. most days at the Zoo’s Elephant Trails.”

Check it out.

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