Dutch giraffes calmed by pop

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Keepers at a Dutch zoo have found an unorthodox solution to calm down skittish giraffes upset by the sound of thousands of fireworks going off at New Year. They play them pop music, says the AFP press agency.

"We have tried a few things to calm the giraffes down over the years," Amersfoort Animal Park spokesperson Josien van Eijk told AFP. We found that pop music works best to calm the animals down and the bangs become more background noise," she said of the five giraffes at the park in Amersfoort in the central Netherlands.

Van Eijk said the giraffes in an enclosure at the 18-hectare 45-acre zoo were the only ones of the park's around 130 animals badly affected by the noise of the fireworks.

Top 2000 hits Staff will tune into the Netherlands' popular Radio 2, Van Eijk added, so the animals can listen to its Top 2000 hits countdown. "We have already started playing the music to get them used to it and will perhaps just turn it a little louder over New Year," she said.

The giraffes did not show a liking for any particular genre of pop "but I would imagine that a calm ballad every now and then also would not do any harm," said Van Eijk.

Firework frenzy The Dutch celebrate the New Year by forking out vast amounts of money on fireworks in a pyrotechnics frenzy that turns some city streets into virtual battlefields. Many pet owners drug their animals to calm them and the Dutch postal services seal off letter boxes to prevent them being set on fire.

More seriously dozens of people are injured and in rare cases even killed during the annual fiesta.

Authorities have restricted sales to a three-day period from December 29-31 and "only" 10 kilos of fireworks may be bought per person. The measures followed an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in a residential area of Enschede in 2000 that killed 22 people.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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