Melbourne Zoo Elephants Rock Out For World Elephant Day
We knew they could paint, but these elephants are letting keepers know they enjoy even more than fine art.
It's World Elephant Day and Melbourne Zoo's resident gentle giants have been treated to a trumpet of a different kind.
As part of musical enrichment sessions, zoo staff have spent the last few days introducing novel sounds into the elephants' environment by way of a range of instruments from bagpipes to the didgeridoo.
With ears flapping and trunks raised, captivating footage shows the herd absolutely loving the tunes on offer from a series of special performers which, of course, even included a brass band's cover of Toto's Africa.
"So far we've been really excited with the program, we've seen beautiful herd responses," head of the elephant enrichment program Erin Gardiner told ten daily.
"They have the choice to walk away whenever they like, they've got plenty of space in other paddocks, but often we've seen that they come forward and really reach out to the musicians."
After the elephants gathered together to assess the new stimulus, each member of the herd reacted uniquely to different instruments and even, at times, revealed new personality traits.
Gardiner said Dokkoon, a usually quiet and reserved member of the group, took a real shine to Wurundjeri elder Murrundindi as he played the didgeridoo.
"Dokkoon really was focused on the didgeridoo player and they had this beautiful moment when she was just listening to him with her ears out and he was really communicating with her," Gardiner said.
"That was one of the main reasons we wanted the musicians to have the ability to be able to communicate with the elephants and play notes that they respond to and almost have this open dialogue."
Younger elephant Mali on the other hand could not contain her excitement as Nathan-- a seal keeper at the zoo-- wowed the crowd on the bagpipes.
Following the success of the performances so far, Gardiner said the zoo has big plans for future bookings, including a harmonica set next month and a harpist down the line.
World Elephant Day was launched in 2012 to bring attention to the ever-increasing threats Asian and African elephants face in the wild.
Poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity has seen Asian elephant numbers fall to less than 40,000 worldwide, officially making them an endangered species.
"It's a great opportunity to just remember how amazing and smart and incredible elephants are," CEO of Zoos Victoria Jenny Gray said.
"They're so much more than tusks, they're so much more than ivory; they're living, feeling animals that we should all do our best to protect and keep safe."
Video footage: Zoos Victoria