When it comes to musical preferences, animals often display intriguing tendencies that align with their stereotypes. Cows find solace in calm and introspective playlists, while great white sharks prefer to rock out to heavy metal.
However, when it comes to elephants, classical music seems to strike a chord. At the Elephants World sanctuary in Thailand, musician Paul Barton and his piano have created a melodic haven for these majestic creatures.
Elephants have a long history of being used for labor in Asia, with some countries granting them similar protections to human employees, including maternity leave, holidays, and retirement plans.
In Thailand, however, thousands of elephants faced redundancy in 1989 when the government implemented a ban on logging.
Barton, drawn to the idea of creating a retirement center for old, injured, and handicapped former logging and trekking elephants, decided to visit Elephants World sanctuary.
The result was heartwarming. Barton captured numerous videos of the sanctuary’s elderly and blind elephants seemingly enjoying his musical performances, which quickly garnered thousands of views online. One video in particular, titled “Bach on Piano for Blind Elephant,” has amassed over 1.5 million views.
While the exact effects of classical music on elephants are still not fully understood, there is evidence to suggest that it can have a positive impact.
A small study conducted in 2008 revealed that exposing elephants to classical music helped reduce stereotypic behaviors, which are distressing and repetitive actions often observed in captive animals deprived of social and environmental enrichment.
Accounts of elephants’ discerning taste in music can be traced back to ancient Roman times, but modern-day elephants have taken a more active role in the music industry.
In 2000, six elephants formed an orchestra and even released a charity single. Furthermore, Smithsonian resident Shanthi has proven her musical talents by playing the harmonica.
Elephants’ artistic abilities extend beyond music as well. Paintings created by elephants have been sold at auctions for as much as $25,000, showcasing their unique creative expression. Additionally, in recent years, we have been treated to the world’s first elephant selfies, capturing their playfulness and curiosity.
All of these remarkable traits stem from elephants’ well-established reputation for intelligence. They possess mathematical abilities, can disable electric fences with their ingenuity, and exhibit a level of self-awareness that adds depth to their character.
In light of these impressive capabilities, it is not surprising that they find solace and enjoyment in the beautiful compositions of artists like Chopin.
As we continue to explore the fascinating world of animal-human connections, the bond between elephants and classical music serves as a reminder of the intricate and unexpected ways in which different species can find harmony and tranquility through shared experiences.