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Melbourne Zoo

Go Grey for World Elephant Day

10 August 2018

Melbourne Zoo’s elephant herd have something extra special to trumpet about this Sunday because it’s World Elephant Day!

And in the lead up to the day, the elephant keeper team at Melbourne Zoo have undertaken a series of live musical enrichment sessions with the herd - Mek Kapah, Dokkoon, Num-Oi, Kulab, Mali and Man Jai - to understand how different sounds resonate with these gentle giants.

Trail of the Elephants Precinct Co-ordinator, Andrea Smith said auditory enrichment offered the ability to incorporate novel sounds into the elephants’ environment.

“We hope this helps to stimulate natural behaviours and strengthen the cohesive relationships between the herd as they work together to assess the sounds.

“Live music from professional musicians, as opposed to previously utilised recorded sounds, provides an opportunity for communication between the artist and the elephants.

“The artist has the freedom to play notes that the elephants are responding well to.”

Over the past few weeks, the herd have enjoyed being serenanded with music from Melbourne Zoo keeper Mason Hill who moonlighted as a bagpiper; Wurundjeri elder Murrundindi playing the didgeridoo; and a brass band.

World Elephant Day was launched in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African Elephants, and asks you to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.

These threats include loss of habitat and poaching, which has forced remaining populations into heavily forested, inaccessible regions in South and South-East Asia.

It is estimated that there may be fewer than 53,000 elephants remaining throughout Asia.

But there are things you can do to help raise awareness and still continue to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments, where they can thrive under care and protection, such as at Melbourne Zoo.

In celebration of World Elephant Day, there are an array of activities in store for everyone to enjoy, including an elephant painting demonstration, a meet and greet experience with Mek Kapah, roving elephant puppets, face painting, along with extra enrichment treats for the herd throughout the day.

Keepers will also be encouraging everyone to #GoGreyForWorldElephantDay to continue to raise awareness for these magnificent creatures.