Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Blooooop bleeee blooop blop! These are the sounds of enrichment.
May 30, 2014 5:31 AM   Subscribe

A bunch of otters jam on a Casio. An orangutan plays a xylophone with a banana. A sloth bear toots some harmonica. These are all a part of the National Zoo's environmental enrichment efforts, not unlike getting your cat some food balls and cat shelves.

Also, here's a fishing kitten training up its skills in a kiddie pool.
posted by ignignokt (31 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Free jazz is the worst.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:36 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


"Scott, we took a vote, and you're out of the band. We're replacing you with a bunch of otters."
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:38 AM on May 30 [17 favorites]


The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang!
posted by thelonius at 5:41 AM on May 30


Are we sure this isn't studio footage from Billy Corgan's new project?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:46 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Actually, come to think of it, wouldn't a jug, a banjo and a washtub bass have been more apropos?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:47 AM on May 30 [14 favorites]


The sloth bears at the National Zoo are great. In the bottom of their enclosures, there are these holes (locked when not in use) that connect via tube to the fake termite mounds in the enclosure. When they feed them, the bring these buckets of termites around, outside where the visitors stand, and the run tubes from the buckets into the holes. The sloth bears smell the termites, come over to the termite mounds, and start suctioning them out of the bucket through the tubes. It sounds exactly like they have little vacuum cleaners in their snouts. It's amazing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:57 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Free jazz is the best.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


The orangutan is really into his scale. He's all about the scale.

I have one of those Little Tykes brand kiddie xylophones, exactly like the one the orangutan is playing. It was the very first thing I bought my daughter, over 14 years ago. Bought it for her while she was still in the womb!

I use it from time to time. I'm a little better on it than the orangutan, but, who knows, if he wasn't constrained by that cage, he'd probably smoke me on it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:29 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


My favorite piece of animal enrichment is what they devised for this geriatric otter who has arthritic elbows.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:36 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


That's the orang utan's finger, not a banana. I love the way another one comes to join in! But why can't they have the xylophone inside their enclosure?

(The Primate House at the National Zoo is... they need to fix it. It's so horribly cold and confining -- prison cells, really. The gorrillas seem especially miserable; I can't visit without crying. But the orangutans have a really cool outdoor cable system to play on, out in the open overhead, and it's pretty amazing to watch. I'm glad they're getting other things to play with, too. (& thankfully the zoo improved the elephant's habitats, which were the other thing that always made me cry.))
posted by Westringia F. at 6:38 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I love the way another one comes to join in!

But did you notice how proprietary the first one is? He gets that upstart monkey's finger OFF that bottom key, and keeps his finger there! End of duet!

But why can't they have the xylophone inside their enclosure?

Cause they'd do their Keith Moon impersonation and trash the instrument?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:42 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


My favorite piece of animal enrichment is what they devised for this geriatric otter who has arthritic elbows.

This is profoundly NSFW in the sense that I will now get very little work done. Warn a person before linking to a video of an otter dunking little basketballs, that's dangerous stuff.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:45 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


> Cause they'd do their Keith Moon impersonation and trash the instrument?

Good point. So maybe the better question is why Keith Moon gets to have his kit inside.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:53 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Hmm. I found the otters' freeform improvisation entertaining, while the orangutan's stereotypical scale exercise just made me sad :/
posted by effbot at 7:07 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


An orangutan plays a xylophone with a banana.

That's the orangutan's finger.

(Wait, bananas are not actually the fingers of orangutans, are they? Aw.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:35 AM on May 30


A college friend actually did this exact thing with her cat when company came over - she'd throw the cat in the bathroom with her Casio keyboard, and we'd hear the cat playing the keyboard in the bathroom. Sometimes we would even hear it meowing along.

This is also reminding me of that series of experiments they did a few years ago where they had a group of bonobo chimps and they invited musicians to come jam with them. I remember Peter Gabriel being really all up in that, and so was one of the bonobos, but another one kept on having to be bribed with Jello.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on May 30 [11 favorites]


"Is that a banana in your pocket or an orangoutang's finger?"

I can't decide if that is much, much better or much, much worse than the original.
posted by The Bellman at 8:02 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Are we sure this isn't studio footage from Billy Corgan's new project?

I don't think he could improve that much in such a short time frame.
posted by yoink at 8:07 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


But why can't they have the xylophone inside their enclosure?

Orangutan's are famous for being master escape artists. It's almost never a good idea to give them something they can use as tools later on.
posted by tommasz at 8:21 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I saw these earlier, and was really depressed by the orangutan video.
posted by codacorolla at 8:25 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


the animal rights arguments in the youtube comments for the orangutan video are pretty interesting.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:31 AM on May 30


Keyboard otters are the new keyboard cat. Period.

But then, otters are already making pop music... Otter Pops.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:45 AM on May 30


I'm a primatologist; I study monkeys in the wild. Yes, it is sad to see orangutans in zoo enclosures, and I have a hard time watching primates in zoos sometimes, especially when exhibits are small, have no enrichment, make no effort to mimic natural environments, or put them in totally unnatural social contexts. But I really don't think you can make that argument about the orangs at the National Zoo. I haven't been there but I am working on collaborating with some of the vets there on a project, and based on the rigor with which they evaluate non-invasive research ideas, I have basically no doubt that the best interests of the animals come first. Beyond that, they've given the orangutans a really impressive degree of control over their day to day life in the zoo. It looks like they can choose where and with whom they want to hang out on a given day (meet the Orangs); they have some cool climbing structures that allow them to use natural locomotor behaviors to travel between exhibits, and play games in the Think Tank if they would like to.

You can make all sorts of arguments against zoos, but they have been critical for me and the research that I do, and really are scientific partners for folks working in a bunch of different fields, including ecology, cognition, and conservation.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:12 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


You can't let otters have access to the entire keyboard or it will be nothing but goddammit bossa nova all effing day.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:17 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


This is also reminding me of that series of experiments they did a few years ago where they had a group of bonobo chimps and they invited musicians to come jam with them. I remember Peter Gabriel being really all up in that, and so was one of the bonobos, but another one kept on having to be bribed with Jello.

Was it Phil Collins?
posted by saturday_morning at 10:30 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


ChuraChura: That video of the exercising otter has long been my 3-year-old's favorite otter video (and otters are his favorite animals).
posted by hanov3r at 10:43 AM on May 30


The absolute best is when the orangs at the National Zoo get up on the climbing structures that churachura talked about above, get right over a walkway for peoples, wait for a huge crowd to gather, and then piss on the crowd. I've been there twice when one did that. He (or she) seemed to be having major fun.
posted by Cocodrillo at 10:43 AM on May 30


Was it Phil Collins?

Of course not - he was busy at the gorilla enclosure. He may have accepted some Jello, though.
posted by sysinfo at 10:44 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Billy Corgan???? That's clearly Rick Wakeman, of Yes. They totally have to re-name the one otter who's monopolizing the keyboard "Rick".

(I think I had that exact same Casio keyboard for a while — somebody had just left it behind on moving day. It needed 12 batteries, and I sounded about like the otters do. Maybe worse.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:59 AM on May 30


This is one of my favorite posts ever, thank you.
posted by grog at 1:58 PM on May 30


I saw Roy Z. play guitar with a banana on the Chemical Wedding tour with Bruce Dickinson. Geezer Butler was also on stage at the time, I believe. Otters are obviously more attractive, but don't really nail the bass line so solidly.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:40 PM on May 30


« Older An outsiders guide to the City of London....  |  In 2013, NZ researchers lookin... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments