An elephant named Shanthi at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo plays a harmonica with her trunk and appears to love doing it.
Video released on Wednesday by the zoo in Washington shows the 36-year-old Asian elephant has a harmonica attached to her stall and plays tunes even when no humans are within view. Elephant keeper Debbie Flinkman said Shanthi is “musically inclined,” playing her own songs that always have a big crescendo at the end. Shanthi also likes to tap things, flap her ears against objects to make noise and rub her leg up and down shrubs to repeat noises. “It is very good enrichment, especially for this specific elephant” because she is so interested, Flinkman said. Other elephants may notice the harmonica but are less interested. Shanthi will play for several minutes at a time, exhaling to play a pattern, then inhaling for a different sound and moving to another end of the harmonica for a different note. Each time, she ends with a big exhale for a loud sound.