Blog Posts


Beautiful Music

The Dallas Zoo recently opened an exhibit called “Giants of the Savanna.” A new group of four elephants was brought in to join the elephants, Jenny and Gypsy, already living there. The two groups, separated between the new savannah and the original pen, rumbled back and forth. Jenny and Gypsy exhibited snorkeling behaviors to learn about the newcomers. An elephant’s ability to interpret olfactory information comes from their highly developed Jacobsen’s organ and sensitive trunks. The new elephants have since been introduced and while still separated within the savanna, the two groups have been in touch.

Smells Like Calf Spirit! (Arutemu)

So I already had elephants on my mind when Dave Sulzer’s videos appeared. The elephant music astounded me. The idea of giving elephants marimbas, mallets, and drums was novel and strangely exotic. I loved the sounds they made and was curious about the connection between their music and their communication. I wanted to learn more about how elephants converse and get to know one another.

Serendipitously, I’d recently received a copy of Elephant Talk by Ann Downer – but had been waiting until the perfect opportunity arose to read it. After seeing Dave’s elephants making music, I had to read it.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Shirley Duke

    Shirley Duke writes for children in a variety of genres. She is the author of a picture book, “No Bows!,” a YA novel, “Unthinkable,” and most recently, two science books, “Infections, Infestations, and Disease” and “You Can’t Wear These Genes.” She’s written commissioned novels, teacher guides, and teen magazine articles. She taught science and ESL in public schools for twenty-five years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She holds degrees in Biology and Education. She’s on a TWU book review committee and blogs weekly about books and science ideas at SimplyScience. Shirley is excited about science and loves NOVA.