We already knew that elephants were some of the cutest animals out there, but now we also know that they have sophisticated tastes in music. The Elephants World sanctuary in Tambon Wang Dong, Thailand, is home to dozens of elderly, ailing, and blind elephants, now retired from their trekking or logging careers. When Paul Barton, a classical pianist, discovered the sanctuary online, he thought he could soothe and entertain the pachyderms by playing for them. He asked Elephants World if he could bring his piano to play for the elephants in their golden years and the sanctuary said yes.
In the many videos of Barton’s performances at the sanctuary, it seems that the elephants are enjoying the show. One particular video, “Bach on Piano for Blind Elephant,” has over 1.6 million views. In the video, Barton said of his blind listener, “She was often in pain, and I like to think maybe the soothing music gave her some comfort in the darkness.”
Their appreciation of the classics isn’t a total surprise, either. According to a study from 2008, classical music helps reduce elephants’ stereotypy — the distressing behavior in captive animals that results from the denial of social and environmental enrichment. And this isn’t the famously intelligent animals’ first foray into culture, either. Back in 2000, a group of elephants actually formed an orchestra, and in 2014 and 2015, paintings made by elephants sold at an auction for $25,000.