11:53 Monday, 05 November 2018
Get your tissues ready! This is too much to cope with on a Monday…
A British pianist, living in Thailand, has acquired some adoring fans in the jungle.
Fifty-seven-year-old Paul Barton has begun dragging his piano into a jungle clearing, on the banks of the River Kwai, to play music for old, injured and disabled elephants.
The self-taught pianist met his larger than life audience during a visit to an elephant sanctuary with his wife in 2011.
“I wondered if these old elephants might like to listen to some slow classical music when I arrived, so I asked if I could bring my piano along and they allowed it,” Mr Barton said.
Roping in a bunch of mates to help him load his upright piano onto the back of truck, Mr Barton drove it up the mountain and into the middle of the Elephants World sanctuary.
And soon after he begun his new hobby, elephants would surround Mr Barton and his piano during each visit, fascinated by the calming sounds he was producing.
Mr Barton uploads videos of his jungle concerts to his YouTube channel, showing baby elephants who squeak and bark along to the music, and older elephants that flap their ears and sway as the he plays.
“It’s said elephants memorise your scent and will think of you as a friend the next time you’re together,” he said.
“When I play music to elephants I always feel calm and happy.”
Many of the audience members at Paul’s concerts have fallen victim to ivory hunters, while others are homeless after a lifetime working for humans on deforestation sites across Thailand.
”Comfort in the darkness.”
Mr Barton said the first time he played his piano in the jungle, a blind elephant called Pla-Ra stopped eating his breakfast and stood completely still “listening to the music with grass protruding from his mouth”.
Pla-Ra had come to the sanctuary after his previous owner removed and sold his tusks.
“A bad infection set in and he was often in pain from the holes where his tusks had been cruelly removed,” Mr Barton said.
“I like to think that the soothing music gave him some comfort in the darkness.”
Sadly, Pla-Ra didn’t survive the infection.
“I became very close to Pla-Ra and I was devastated when he died,” he said.
Are any movie producers reading this? We think this could be an Oscar winner just waiting to happen!