Shanti the elephant occupies her time playing the harmonica.

This is an interesting video from several perspectives: firstly it shows how the tip of an elephant’s trunk can be used for very delicate functions and with great precision: secondly it shows elephants in zoos are capable of amusing themselves in non-feeding/non-maternal activities that adult elephants in the wild would probably not have time for. Thirdly it shows that western zoos still don’t understand that by giving playthings to captive elephants they set an example to zoos in less developed countries that might be construed as condoning the conditioning or training of elephants to perform unnatural activities. Given that this famous zoo has done it, zoos in other parts of the world might interpret that it is ‘OK’ to train their elephants to do tricks and charge money for it. I have seen it happen.

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