WATCH: Two Elephants Dance Along to a Violin Concerto
Specifically, Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins
UPDATE: PEOPLE just received the statement below from PETA regarding this elephant video.
“When elephants sway back and forth, experts recognize that they’re almost certainly exhibiting symptoms of the captivity-induced mental illness called zoochosis – in other words, they’re suffering and trying to cope with captivity and chains, not dancing,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Elephants in the circus are denied everything that is natural and important to them and are taught to perform tricks by being beaten – there is no other known way, which is one of the many reasons why PETA’s motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment.’”
However, according to a 2008 article published by the Guardian classical music can also help to soothe elephants. “Elephants are incredibly sensitive beasts,” said David Field, zoological director of London and Whipsnade zoos. “Their appreciation of noise communication is far beyond our hearing range. They communicate in deep infrasonic vibrations … so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if [classical music ]has this calming effect.”
As opposed to hippos, who are clearly fans of 20th-century serialism (on the order of Arnold Schoenberg or possibly Bruce Hornsby), it’s long been rumored that elephants love the highly ordered sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach. And now, courtesy of Eleanor Bartsch, we have proof of that.
Bartsch was performing with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, when she decided to head outdoors and warm up before the performance of her piece, Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins.
Bartsch wound up near the pen for Kelly and Viola, 44 and 45, two elephants that have lived together for most of their lives, and she found out that the pair are apparently devoted fans of classical music. Even if their reaction is a bit more “Shoegaze fans swaying intently back and forth at a My Bloody Valentine reunion show” than “Old money Upper East Side Manhattanite clapping politely at the Met,” it’s clear they’re enjoying Bartsch’s performance. And we, in turn, are enjoying them enjoying it.
Next up: Tigers react to Slayer.