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Music soothes the pachyderm

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 18:42 IST
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Suma, a 45-year-old elephant and long-time resident of the Zagreb Zoo, was bereaved and inconsolable after her pachyderm partner of tens years died of cancer.

Until she heard Mozart.

"Suma became very depressed after her roomie Patna died in early May," head of Zagreb Zoo Mladen Anic told AFP on Thursday.

"She was refusing to eat, became uncommunicative, showed all the signs of a serious depression."

Then, by sheer accident, Suma's keepers discovered that the healing power of Mozart extends to the animal kingdom too.

Earlier this month, the zoo the zoo organized a concert of classical music just opposite Suma's dwelling, Anic explained.

At the sight of five musicians preparing themselves to start a concert, Suma became very nervous and aggressive, peppering the intruders with little stones that she blew out of her trunk.

"But as soon as the concert started what we saw was really fascinating. Suma leaned against the fence, closed her eyes and listened without moving the entire concert," he said. Besides Mozart, she took in pieces by Vivaldi and Schubert too.

When zoo authorities realized that classical music seemed to help Suma cope with her grief, they bought a stereo and installed it so she could get a daily dose of music therapy.

The elephant especially adores Mozart, Anic said, but is also partial to the strains of Vivaldi and Bach.

"We are so glad that we can provide -- at what is a rather advanced age for elephants -- things that Suma really enjoys," Anic said.

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