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Thai Elephant Orchestra album coverNo, this is not a joke. There is actually an orchestra in Northern Thailand near Lampang that is made up of sixteen Asian elephants who have three music CDs under their trunks. Their first CD is predominantly improvisations, but on the second CD they play Beethoven and Hank Williams.

Of course, the elephants had a little help in the production department. Elephant conservationist Richard Lair and of the National Elephant Institute (formerly the Thai Elephant Conservation Center) and the American musical artist and neuroscientist Dave Soldier built their instruments and worked with them through every note. You can watch a documentary here.

Elephants playing music

I wasn’t surprised when I first heard about the Thai Elephant Orchestra. After all, I’d attended a full-contact elephant handling school at Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Arkansas, where I learned first-hand just how scary-smart elephants can be. But I certainly was intrigued that these elephants enjoyed playing music. Their performances were more than animals trained to do tricks. Watch the following video clip and see for yourself.

Thai Elephant Orchestra Takes the Stage

My direct experience working with elephants (though brief) proved to me that elephants are as aware as we are. Combine that with an intelligence equal to that of a five year-old human child, and you can begin to comprehend the depth of feeling and the extent of their creative potential.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I was amazed (and delighted) by the moving account of world-renowned cellist, Jami Sieber, playing music with the Thai Elephant Orchestra. A while back I wrote a post on the mystical power of music. The following video proves that music is a universal language. It spans species, as well as the entire human race.

Music ~ The Language that Spans Species

Have you known an animal that loves music?