Framingham resident Sophie Steck designed a Drum Roll toy for two elephants at the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford as part of an interdisciplinary elective class for students of Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston.
The class, Toys for Elephants, presents a challenge to art students to design a toy that will keep elephants in captivity cognitively and physically stimulated.
Students work closely with Zookeeper Bill Sampson and place themselves in the elephants’ environment to grasp the challenge of creating objects that are sturdy enough and complex enough for the powerful yet curious and intelligent animals, according to a press release.
Steck came up with the Drum Roll idea after seeing a video of the Buttonwood Zoo elephants tapping on a dumpster near their enclosure, keeping a steady beat. She used pipes in a xylophone format for the elephants to engage and create music.
The Toys for Elephants program is now in its third year at MassArt, in collaboration with non-profit organization Handshouse Studio.