Sangduen "Lek" Chailert, chair of the Chiang Mai-based Save Elephant Foundation, has sung songs for elephants in the foundation’s care for about a decade, but a video clip uploaded on YouTube by Elephantnews on June 11 received almost a million views in just seven days.
She sings a Thai song “Tai Rom Malalee” to Faa Mai, an elephant who quickly lays down to sleep and snores happily.
Netizens worldwide found that the video clip adorable. One YouTube user Iam You86 said, “This was so sweet! She has love in her every movement and word. Thank you for being an awesome human, Lek! Give Faa Mai a big hug and kiss for me!”
In an interview with Thairath, Ms Sangduen said after she started caring for mistreated elephants at the foundation she realised about 80% of them had psychological problems. Some seemed to be healthy, but they had empty eyes.
She recalled that one young elephant who was rescued from a local show operator always threw rocks at people who tried to get close to her. So she tried to get close to her by singing different styles of songs.
In the beginning she was also welcomed with stones, but later when she sang “Tai Rom Malulee”, a song Ms Sangduen’s mother regularly sung to her as a child, she found it calmed the elephant down.
“In the beginning, people may have thought that I was insane, but I held to my belief because I found a positive change while singing for them, aggressive elephants become gentle,” she said.
Ms Sangduen usually sings to the elephants when they get together in the evening, but sometimes she also sings to them in the daytime, and is able to put them to sleep.
The Elephant Nature Park cares for blind, previously drugged and old elephants, allowing them to roam around freely around the grounds.