THE HAGUE — Keepers at a Dutch zoo have found an unorthodox solution to calm down skittish giraffes spooked by the sound of thousands of end-of-year fireworks going off: playing them pop music.
"We have tried a few things to calm the giraffes down over the years," Amersfoort Animal Park spokeswoman 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 giraffes in an enclosure at the 18-hectare (45-acre) zoo were the only ones of the park's around 130 animals badly affected.
Staff will again tune into the Netherlands' popular public 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.
The Dutch have celebrated 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.
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 (22 pounds) of fireworks per person, since an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in a residential area of Enschede in 2000 killed 22 people.
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