Museum für Naturkunde Tierstimmenarchiv
Recording V1817_22   
Song thrush (Turdus philomelos):
Recorded by:
Recording date:
D. Wallschläger
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 The history of the Animal Sound Archive

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The recording of animal voices has a long tradition in Berlin. Already in the 1930s the first discs with bird voices were published: "Gefiederte Meistersänger - Das erste tönende Lehr- und Hilfsbuch zur Beobachtung und Bestimmung der heimischen Vogelwelt" edited by Oskar Heinroth and Ludwig Koch.

Animal voices from the institute of zoology

Prof. Günter Tembrock

Prof. Günter Tembrock (1918-2011) the founder of the Animal Sound Archive (photo H. Zappe)

The Animal Sound Archive (German: Tierstimmenarchiv) is one of the oldest and largest collections of animal voices in the world. It was founded in 1951 when Günter Tembrock recorded a wild tawny owl in the garden of the institute of zoology. The aim of the collection was the scientific documentation of animal voices as one expression of animal behaviour. In the first years the work was focussed on the vocal behaviour of red foxes. From January 1952 until April 1966 Günter Tembrock documented the vocalizations of red foxes on 345 tapes with a total duration of more than 20 hours. In 1958 under the direction of Günter Tembrock a motion picture on acoustic communication on red foxes and other canids was produced. It was worldwide the first film with special attention on acoustic behaviour of animals.

Recording in wild and in zoos

red foxes

Red foxes were reared at the institute of zoology of the Humboldt - Universität in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the mid of the 1950s first recordings were made in the two zoological gardens of Berlin. Basing on this material Tembrock wrote the review paper on acoustic communication of mammals published in 1963 in Busnels book "Acoustic behaviour of animals". From 1960 more and more animals were recorded in the wild. This was the basis of the series of discs Voices of the Birds of Central Europe edited by Günter Tembrock and Michael Schubert. The first disc was published in 1967 " Forest Birds.
While up to 1990 the majority of the recordings was made by Günter Tembrock, his collaborators and students, now the collection is being expanded by external collections such as those of D. Langwald (recordings from the Tierpark Berlin), K. Conrads (a large bird sound collection) and G. Hohmann (recordings of primates from India and Sri Lanka). Since the scientific research at the Animal Sound Archive is focussed on the acoustic communication of canids a large collection of Arctic fox vocalizations has been added.

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