Winkie, the elephant who killed her handler a few weeks ago, may have done so under the influence of gangsta rap, sources at Hohenwald’s Elephant Sanctuary say.
“Winkie liked 50 Cent and Young Buck, and sometimes even reached back to the classics, like N.W.A. and the Geto Boys,” says one volunteer at the sanctuary, which has been Winkie’s home since she was removed from the Madison, Wis., zoo due to her violent tendencies.
As with all the elephants at the sanctuary, Winkie had been fitted with cantaloupe-sized ear buds and had been taught to use her trunk to select her favorite songs from her personal iPod. “It’s quite a sight watching all the elephants walking around holding their iPods and bobbing their heads to the music,” the sanctuary volunteer says.
“A lot of the elephants lean toward country or oldies. We’ve got one African elephant who just loves mid-’70s David Bowie. But from the beginning, Winkie would only play hardcore rap.”
One expert says that violent music may have an effect on certain pachyderms.
“It’s sometimes hard to tell the effects of rap music, especially the more violent gangsta rap, on potentially rogue elephants,” says MTSU animal sociologist Brendon Everheart. “Many elephants can listen to this genre and live normal lives, but with an elephant who is already predisposed to violence, the aggressive stance of the music may just push them over the edge.”
In the wake of the handler’s killing, the Elephant Sanctuary decided not to euthanize the 4-ton elephant, and has rewritten its policies to limit what it terms “potentially violent” music to elephants. Winkie is now restricted to smooth jazz.
In a related item, the Elephant Sanctuary’s decision not to euthanize the elephant was greeted by cheers from members of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish Killing of Elephants (T-CAKE), who were staging a candlelight vigil and singing a hastily written anti-pachyderm-death-penalty anthem, “Winkie Shall Overcome,” at the time the decision was announced.