How do you cheer up an unhappy ape? With a harp!
How do you cheer up an unhappy ape? With a harp! Terri Tacheny plays her harp as one of the gorillas stood nearby outside the Primate House at Como Zoo in in St. Paul (AP photos)
How do you cheer up an unhappy ape? With a harp!
Lexile: 960L

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Terri Tacheny long enjoyed taking her young daughters to Como Zoo in St. Paul, except for the Primate House, where she thought the gorillas, orangutans and monkeys often seemed to lack energy.

Her solution was a little music. Now Tacheny, a volunteer, plays once a month for an appreciative audience that ambles down to the barrier as soon as Tacheny begins setting up her beautifully carved wooden harp. She's been doing it for nearly 10 years.

"I don't speak gorilla, but there's a gorilla purr that occurs when I begin to play. And that's their happy sound," said Tacheny. She is 57.

As the sounds of Tacheny's harp drift through the zoo, a male gorilla stares through the fence at the musician. Then he chews contentedly on vegetation while families stop to snap pictures.

Tacheny is a therapeutic harpist. She plays for hospital patients to help them deal with pain and anxiety. She thought if the soothing sounds helped calm humans, it would work for the primates too.

"I would love to see every zoo have a harpist. I think it benefits the animals," said Tacheny.

Tami Murphy, a zookeeper at Como, said Tacheny has played for all the animals. Some aren't interested, Murphy said, but the harp music "seems to be a really calming thing for the apes to listen to."

Tacheny says she's never gotten a negative review from her audience of apes.

"I've never had anything thrown at me," she said.

Critical thinking challenge: Terri plays for hospital patients and for apes. Whats the connection?

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  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    9/30/2014 - 09:14 p.m.

    I think that it is really cool that this woman s about to make apes and monkeys happy by playing the harp. That is really cool, but do you really think that the ape is calm? I think that people just think that the ape is calm because they aren't moving as much as they were. I think that the ape just doesn't know music is and they are just watching her play the harp and that is making them not move. I just think that these people just think that they can do anything they want, just like making the ape calm with music from a harp. I think that these people just think that the world is easy to tam and it is easy to control. NO! God made it so that people can take care of these animals and not just treat them as toys and for money. I think that these people should lets these animals out in a open space and then let the animals listen to the music. i think that these people are just trying to make these animals feel better by playing music.

  • AriannaW-Bla
    9/30/2014 - 09:22 p.m.

    I thought that it was interesting that a gorilla would love the music of a harp.I am very surprised that a gorilla would have a very big heart for music.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/30/2014 - 10:03 p.m.

    I think this is cool because Terry Tacheny has figured out a way to help the primates to become more energized so people wouldn't be bored of them. Also, the cool thing is, that she has never received a negative attitude from the primates. Also, this would benefit the primates because they can be more alive so people can view them in admiration.
    Critical Thinking Challenge: Terri plays for hospital patients and for apes. What is the connection?
    Answer: The connection between the hospital patients and apes is that they can become more relaxed and the soothing notes help calm them.

  • BeckyA-5
    10/01/2014 - 12:53 a.m.

    I find this article very interesting. It talks about how a 57 year old woman named Terri Tacheny plays the harp to sooth the animals. She comes once a moth and is very welcomed all the animals love her. If this story is actually true and its true thats it sooths and relaxes the animals then i agree with her, that every zoo should have a professional harpest come play for the animals. I find it funny that a monkey or any animal could be intertained by a harp and could relax.

  • MS2000TACOS
    10/01/2014 - 08:36 a.m.

    Both hospital patients and apes need entertaining. Both of them are low on energy, and this calms them down. Everyone can use some music to make sure they aren't stressed out or make sure they aren't lazy bum animals!

  • kr2001panda
    10/01/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    When Terri was playing the harp to the ages in the hospital they went unhappy to happy animals again. What's the connection of it because she made they happy.

  • tallenl
    10/01/2014 - 10:30 a.m.

    She goes to the como zoo in St. Pual and plays a harp for the monkeys and apes to give them energy and cheer them up.

  • griffinp-Tho
    10/01/2014 - 11:57 a.m.

    I think it calms patients and apes because a harp is a nice sweet sound.It should calm a patient down to take medicine and calm down apes and get them to stop throwing things.

  • rainm-Tho
    10/01/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    the connection is that some times you need some help getting up and thats what she did the both needed help they both were sad so she helped them personaly i agree with her there should be a harpist in all zoos

  • ce2001sparkle
    10/01/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    Apes are basically like humans. They are smart, are able to understand most things being told, and have feelings. The same way we as humans have certain music that we like and calm us down so do they.

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