By Curtis Mitchell and Jack Williams
This blind elephant recently had a moment she will never forget, as a kindhearted classical pianist opted to play Bach to her in her natural mountainous surroundings.
The heartwarming clip is incredibly raw: just British pianist Paul Barton and an upright piano among the trees; the elephant, Lam Duan, incredibly comfortable in Paul’s presence as he works the keys.
In the clip, Paul plays the classical Bach number while the 62-year-old elephant sways her head and trunk to the music, almost in a trance-like state.
What makes the footage even more emotional is that Lam Duan – meaning “Tree With Yellow Flowers” – suffered an incredibly tough life before being brought to the Elephants World, Thailand, where the footage was recently filmed.
Before arriving at Elephants World in the Kanchanaburi district, in 2012, Lam Duan spent the first 30 years of her life in hard working conditions.
At first she worked in the logging trade for 20 years before then being used in the trekking industry for further 10 years.
Blind, she was then bought by a pair of owners who cared for the elephant for 30 years before she was moved to Elephants World.
Paul, 57, who lives at Elephants World with his wife, Khwan, a professional sculptor, said: “I was heartbroken when I first saw Lam Duan arrive at Elephants World in 2012.”
“She’s so resltess.
“When you play music to her, she stops being restless and is calm.
“Being blind, she’ll sway back and forth.”
Paul – originally from East Yorkshire, UK – regularly plays music to the 28 elephants at Elephants World, who he hopes to give a truly natural life to after the hardships some have suffered.
Though there are dangers with the likes of bull elephants, which can be aggressive, Paul likes his performances to be completely natural with no restrictions.
He can usually tell within a few seconds of performing whether the elephant likes his music choice or not, and Paul hopes such activities are a way of making the animals lives a little more fulfilled in some way.
By uploading the videos to his YouTube channel, too, Paul hopes to raise awareness of the elephants that arrive at Elephants World with health problems and how their lives can be improved.
Going forward, he plans to continue treating Lam Duan and the other 27 elephants to such musical numbers.
Paul said: “The piano is out in the mountains, so it’s completely free – the elephant can do what it wants.
“These elephants are standing close to you, and there’s kind of a connection that you can’t explain in words.”