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Zoo Uses Pop Music To Fight Fireworks Noise

Zoo Uses Pop Music To Fight Fireworks Noise

To soothe giraffes spooked by the noise from fireworks set off to celebrate the New Year, Amersfoort Animal Park in Utrecht in the Netherlands plans to have them tune into public Radio 2 to hear the Top 2000 countdown. As the park’s spokeswoman Josien van Eijik told Agence France-Presse (via Raw Story), “We found that pop music works best to calm the animals down and the bangs become more background noise.”

There are five giraffes among the 130 animals in the park and only the giraffes seem to be affected by the noise. The staff have started to play the music prior to today so the giraffes can get used to it. While noting that they have so far shown no particular preferences for music, Van Eijk speculated that “‘a calm ballad every now and then also would not do any harm.’”

Agence France-Presse says there are so many fireworks in the Netherlands to celebrate New Year’s that it’s a “pyrotechnics frenzy that turns some city streets into virtual battlefields” and that some owners medicate their pets to calm them. New Year’s Eve fireworks are nowhere that intense in our suburban New Jersey town; Fourth of July is when things can get very noisy with fireworks going off in celebrations all over, not to mention not so far away in New York City.

Fireworks are definitely an issue for my son Charlie who — like many on the autism spectrum – has unusual responses to sensory stimuli and especially to noises that are loud and high-pitched, noticeably more so now as a teenager. He has hypersensitive hearing and plants his hands firmly over his ears on hearing an airplane go by far overhead and when we walk into a store and he hears the buzz of overhead lights. After much trial and error with different sorts of headphones, we have learned that Charlie doesn’t care to wear them — that he wants not so much to block out sounds, as to filter them; he seems to use sound and music to do this. Charlie likes to listen to music on his iPad and anyone in the vicinity (mostly my husband and me as Charlie only uses the iPad at home) hears what he’s hearing. Sometimes he puts an album on a repeating loop. When he does so, the choices tend to be pop-ish (we’ve heard a few too many rotations of the instrumentals from Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys in the past week).

Playing the music for the giraffes in  Amersfoort Animal Park sounds (apologies for an unintended pun) like a good solution to soften the boom of the fireworks. But, thinking of the animals whose owners are said to be drugging them to calm them amid all the noise, one wonders if the fireworks have gotten out of hand and it’s high time to think of a quieter, less agitating way to celebrate the New Year. The giraffes and other animals at Amersfoort Animal Park are (literally) a captive audience to the fireworks: Noise pollution is invisible, but its effects are very real.

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32 comments

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8:22AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Why the bloody hell do fireworks have to be so noisey. I absolutely hate fireworks because of the distress it causes to most animals. Why do celebrations have to involve noise? This world is full of it! Sorry but I beleive you can celebrate without having noisey fireworks which seem to get louder and louder each year. Also fireworks can be quite distressing to the elderly who live on their own!

4:17PM PST on Jan 3, 2012

Good idea, thanks. It COULD be also done, that ban this stupid noise in the arrounding area.

Better than nothing for all the poors in captivity.

8:40AM PST on Jan 3, 2012

If It works go for it!

10:27PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

Every dog I have had has had issues with fireworks and gunfire (boo hunting seasons). I use valerian root tincture to calm them. I would truly love for music to work for my babies. Amused but glad that they found pop music to soothe the giraffes.

8:31PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

Great use of creative approaches to help these animals.

5:24PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

So wonderful that these folks are so caring .. thanks!

1:22PM PST on Jan 2, 2012

I am glad for the initiative. Thank you.

8:46AM PST on Jan 2, 2012

Poor babies....they must have been so freaked out.

5:25AM PST on Jan 2, 2012

Surprising. I would have thought classical music would have calmed them more, as it does with dogs. But it's good to know someone cares enough about the animals to think about these things.

11:48PM PST on Jan 1, 2012

I think that playing music for the giraffes is certainly a creative way of helping them ignore the fireworks. If someone has to sedate an animal, because of the noise from fireworks, then I agree that it has gotten way out of hand. Hope that the pop music calms the giraffes down, and keeps them from getting scared from the loud display of fireworks. And I hate to have to mention it, but I hope that it isn't Justin Beiber the giraffes have to listen to, otherwise they would be better off listening to the fireworks' noise. (Sorry JB fans, but I don't like him.) Anyways, thanks for putting this up. It made for a very interesting read.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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