Backstory to New Videos - Art and Music for Elephants

In this video I try to provide a little context and backstory to our new videos about art and music for elephants.

We occasionally get asked if we still work with elephants, and if so, if we intend to post more videos with elephants on this channel in the future? In this video I try to provide a little context and backstory to our new videos.

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Video Transcription

(The following transcript was brought to you by Whisper AI.)

I am Paul Barton. I would like to say a big thank you if you are subscribed to this channel. Watch our videos from time to time or have supported our projects through Patreon, especially over the past few years. You have made a difference without necessarily being aware of it.

We know some of you subscribe to this channel specifically for elephant videos and have asked in comments whether we still work with elephants, and if so, if we intend to post more elephant videos on this channel in the future. The answer is yes to both. But before we post any new videos publicly, as many are currently unlisted, we feel we should provide some context and tell you briefly the backstory to the videos.

The domestic elephant story at Sanctuary’s or facilities, whatever you like to call them, changed over three years ago when Thailand closed its borders at the start of the pandemic. Visitor revenue of Elephants World, where we previously worked as volunteers, suddenly stopped. Two months into the pandemic, most of the elephants world staff will let go. Dr Samat, the owner, faced unprecedented financial challenges. He confronted a situation without a foreseeable end, which if truth be told, understandably took a toll on his emotional and mental health.

Many of you know each domesticated elephant needs a mahout to take care of that individual elephant’s daily needs. A mahout has to be employed for each elephant and given a monthly salary. Our friend Krahan had been head mahout at Elephants World for 12 years. Krahan, along with many other mahouts, lost their jobs at that time. And the elephants they cared for returned to their former owners. To explain how or why this happened to some elephants, not others, is too complicated for this short video. So, vice to say, elephants world had 23 elephants pre-pandemic. And today, at the time of making this video, just 11. Most of the elephants I used to play piano for pre-pandemic had gone away. And some of the old elephants sadly passed naturally due to advanced age.

With no income, no savings to speak of, a number of mahouts and staff, including Krahan, had no other option but to leave their homes at Elephants World and returned to their villages scattered along the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border. Krahan, his wife Bua and two sons, Che and Sawang, are our daughter Emily’s friends. They were now homeless. It’s hard to see your friends in this situation without wanting to help in some way. While many things stopped during the pandemic, the Internet didn’t. Thanks to those that started to watch or continued to watch our videos or remained a Patreon patron during that time, you helped Krahan’s family without realizing it.

If you’ve watched one of our piano videos, you’ll have seen the FEURICH logo at the beginning. FEURICH has been wonderfully supportive to all our musical projects both at home, in the music room as well as in the mountains with the elephants for well over a decade now. During lockdown, instead of suspending or releasing their support, at a time their own business in Vienna was in lockdown, they continued it. This continuation enabled us to carry on our projects with elephants at that time, but as local farmers came to the rescue and donated daily truckfuls of food for them, the elephants all got really well fed. No elephant went hungry, but the mahouts were overlooked.

Apogee Digital in the USA have been amazing, too. The owner, Betty Bennett has, for some years, offered unconditional support and encouragement for our daughter Emily’s music and art activities, both practically and with kindness and friendship. Sometime back we mentioned to Betty our project for Krahan and his family. Thanks to Betty, Krahan’s story has a happy ending. We’ll tell Krahan’s story in a follow on video which we’ll post soon, along with the elephant videos that some of you have asked for.

If you’re subscribed to this channel, thank you for being a part of this adventure. If you’d like to be part of similar stories, all you need to do is keep watching our videos in the year ahead.

Be safe, good luck with all you’re doing and thanks for watching. Thank you for watching.