WAHPETON, N.D. — It was far from a normal Tuesday at the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, where for a half-hour people stopped in their tracks when they walked by a group of musicians.
It was likely that many at the zoo were impressed that a New York City-based reed instrument ensemble had come to play a concert.
But surely, they were shocked by the fact that Tal, a 300-pound orangutan, was playing an instrument, too.
The New York Kammermusiker was in Wahpeton for its fourth year to perform for Tal, a 33-year-old orangutan who happens to be a classical music connoisseur. It's a tradition that started after the ensemble learned of his love of music.
Tal been at the zoo for 10 years now, and staff say he has always enjoyed classical music, like CDs the ensemble has sent.
And just a few minutes into the ensemble's performance Tuesday, Tal decided it was his turn to join and started to play on his recorder.
Tal fan Lori Buboltz brought family visiting from Germany to watch him play.
"I did not know what to expect," Carola Buboltz said. "I am really amazed at what he can do."
As the concert ended, Tal and his fellow musicians were honored with a well-deserved round of applause.
One of the musicians said Tal's playing is a reminder that animals may be more human than they appear on the surface.
"It touches an emotional chord that I think is there," said Jeffrey Hale, a member of the ensemble. "We never give animals credit for having feelings but I'm pretty sure that they do."