The Smithsonian National Zoo is putting together a band cuter (and furrier) than any boy band.
The Washington D.C. zoo provides animals — including otters, bears and apes — with musical instruments as part of the wildlife center’s enrichment program to help them engage different senses and learn certain tasks.
The zoo posted videos of the experiments online to show everyone how each animal tries their hand (or paw) at the different instruments. While the sloth bear seems to both enjoy (and fear) the harmonica, the orangutan fearlessly plays a decent set of scales on the xylophone.
When energetic otters get a keyboard they fight for space at the keys. But the music isn’t all fun and games for the otters, the instruments engage the animals’ “sight, touch, and hearing senses.”
And for the great apes like Bonnie the orangutan, music or especially the xylophone can help the ape “participate in critical thinking studies.”
Hank, the sloth bear cub, was given a harmonica to encourage the cub to replicate the “natural behavior [of] sloth bears in the wild ” to suck out and eat termites. While the technique is important for Hank to learn, it means his harmonica playing isn’t going to beat Bob Dylan’s anytime soon.