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Retired Pianist Plays To Old, Injured And Handicapped Elephants Who've Lived Stressful Lives

Jake Massey

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Retired Pianist Plays To Old, Injured And Handicapped Elephants Who've Lived Stressful Lives

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Retirement sounds idyllic to many of us. The cosy waiting room on death's corridor.

But as we all know, waiting can get boring - particularly if in said waiting room the only thing on TV is Bargain Hunt.

One man though is living the serene retirement of gods, sitting in a forest and playing classical piano symphonies to old, injured and disabled elephants.

Paul Barton, from East Yorkshire, UK, has been doing this since 2011 with the aim of rehabilitating elephants that have led stressful lives as former logging and trekking animals.

The 57-year-old carved out this alternative way of life after stumbling upon Elephants World, a sanctuary near Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Barton wanted to help out, but rather than offering to pick up a shovel and help shift the shit, he asked if he could bring along his piano and play it for the elephants.

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

Barton said: "The first time I played piano at Elephants World a blind elephant called Plara was closest to the piano by coincidence.

"When he heard Beethoven for the first time he stopped eating, stood still and listened to the music with grass protruding from his mouth.

"So I returned to Elephants World often after that day and stayed for long periods."

Clearly, Barton took protruding mouth grass to be the elephantine equivalent of a standing ovation.

Seven years on and Barton and his family now live at Elephants World and he has played to a total of 22 elephants.

He said: "Some elephants get very close to the piano of their own accord, they might drape their trunk over the piano even.

"Some hold their trunk in their mouth when listening, some start to sway with the rhythm of the music.

"The elephants are free to walk about around the piano, they are not chained or tethered in any way and the piano keys are of course not made from ivory.

"If they didn't like the music then they could simply wander off."

That's true, Mr Barton, they could. Equally, if they really didn't like the music they could eat your chair and slam their trunk on the keys while you play, a little bit like the young elephant in the video. In fact, if you skip to around two minutes and 15 seconds you will see the little elephant ramming Mr Barton to the ground, stamping on him, and biting his neck, as if to say, 'I don't like you or your piano Mr Barton'.


Though maybe that is unfair, given the elephant in question is very young. Perhaps his beef is not with Barton or the piano as such, but rather his insistence on playing the likes of Bach and Beethoven.

In fact, if you skip to two minutes and 40 seconds you can see the elephant biting and attacking Barton once again, but if you look really closely, it's as though the elephant is saying: 'Look Mr Barton, you're not a bad guy and you're pretty talented, but for fuck's sake how about some Dua Lipa or a bit of Olly Murs?!"

Everyone's a critic.

Topics: Elephant

Jake Massey
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