Paul Barton has been playing to the elephants at the Elephantstay
program at the Royal Elephant Kraal & Village in Thailand since
1996, but it wasn't until he met Peter that one of the elephants felt
compelled to join in. Peter is now a piano-playing pachyderm who totally
loves to rock out to a bit of the boogie woogie blues. With his trunk
he turns Paul's solo into a delightful duet.
There is a certain poignant irony to Peter's love of the piano since
piano keys were originally covered in ivory. These days the keys are
plastic and "tickling the ivories" is just a reference to things past.
In videos of Peter and Paul together you can see Peter bobbing his head
and dancing to the beat. Even another elephant gets into the groove. But
it is only Peter who feels moved enough to reach out a trunk and add a
few notes. Granted, Peter sometimes gets a look on his face that seems
to suggest that he doesn't quite understand why his playing doesn't
sound like Paul's, but that doesn't dampen his spirit or keep him for
the joy of trying.
Elephantstay is a working elephant village dedicated to elephant
conservation. It is located just one hour outside of Bangkok in
Ayutthaya, Thailand. They offer the unique experience of living, caring
for, and working with elephants for regular people who just want to
learn more about the enormous beasts. The income from the program goes
directly into helping the elephants and making sure that they are happy
Peter's Thai name is Noppakhao and he is one musical guy. He has also
been known to play the clarinet, though the piano is still his first
love. If only Victor Borge was still around to play with him -- it would
be a match made in piano heaven! And don't worry if you don't hear
about Peter for awhile -- he'll be Bach!