They say music is medicine for the mind and soul and it turns out that the same is true of wildlife. Well, at least that seems to be the case if you watch some of Paul Barton’s videos. Paul, a great pianist and wildlife enthusiast, has been performing for his select audiences for over a decade now. Since 2011, he has performed pieces from Beethoven, Schumann or Grieg for elephants rescued in Thailand.
The last of the majestic animals that Paul played with was Mongkol – a senior bull elephant who had suffered greatly. Fortunately, he was recently rescued after spending his life in captivity. Like many others behind him, Mangkol was charmed by the way Paul chose to communicate with him.
“Occasionally, Mongkol, while walking along the river, would stop by the piano,” explains Paul. “If we noticed him waiting I would go over and play him a few slow classical pieces.”
Paul mainly performs for resident elephants at Elephant World, a sanctuary on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Many of these gentle giants have been rescued from the logging industry, an activity banned in the country more than three decades ago. This music therapy has been shown to be therapeutic for most of these elephants. Paul also says there is a deep connection between him as a musician and the elephants he plays for.
Here you can watch on of these touching moments.
“There is a special bond between you and the elephant,” the pianist said. “It seems worthwhile to play piano music to elephants if they enjoy it, elephants that have had stressful lives and live in a world of darkness, but apparently, there is something infinitesimally wonderful in a piece of Beethoven that connects me to that elephant and that feeling is otherworldly.”
Many of these elephants suffered numerous physical and mental injuries during their captivity. Some of them were even blind. But it turned out that classical music was the comfort they were looking for.
Here Paul is playing Beethoven for Mangkol!