Meet Rom Sai, a mighty and noble elephant who was blinded when a tree limb impaled his left eye during his days of slavery in Thailand’s logging industry. Understandably, this 38-year-old bull was full of anger and prone to outbursts. That is, until the day famed concert pianist, Paul Barton, put fingers to keys in the open air, letting his music sooth Rom Sai’s soul.
As the music entered his ears, the bull gently approached Paul, his trunk nuzzling the piano as the sounds of Beethoven drifted across the soft breeze on the water’s edge of the country’s iconic River Kwai. To this day, Paul still plays the elephant’s favorite parts of the song over and over again.
On the banks of the river is where Elephants World was founded in 2008. It is a sanctuary for sick, old, disabled, abused and rescued elephants. It is here that these gentle giants take their final bow, and where Paul graces them with beautiful classical music.
Network for Animals chief campaigner David Barritt said: “Some of these elephants were once forced to beg on the streets at the cruel end of whips and billhooks. Twenty-five years ago, members of our team were part of successfully negotiating a ban on this humiliating abuse. Today, we also provide help and care in the last leg of their journey at Elephants World.”
In Thailand, there are almost no elephants left in the wild. Most wound up working as logging machines for the teak industry, all the while being chained under the harsh suns and torrential monsoons of an Asian climate. In 1998, when the logging industry was banned, many of the surviving elephants were sold to people who used them to perform tricks in public streets for small amounts of money. Animal welfare organizations stepped in and some of the elephants were rescued and taken to places like Elephants World, where they are left to live their lives I peace.
“Many of the elephants who live there are traumatized from their days as street performers and logging machines,” said Barritt. “The kindness displayed by Paul Barton in playing classical music to them is a wonderful, selfless gesture that NFA completely supports.
“We are also providing funding for Elephants World which is always short of money to feed the old giants.”