Paul Barton, an artist and musician living in Thailand, who often plays piano for rescued elephants at various sanctuaries, did the same for the wild macaques who live inside an abandoned theater in Lopburi. Several of the lively primates hung onto every note and even tried to play the instrument themselves. One elder macaque even introduced herself to the musician.
Here are a few piano moments in the cinema this morning. An old macaque came to say hello and offered her hand in friendship. It was unexpected and I felt moved she ever-so-gently accepted me and a piano into her home.
Barton’s wife and their daughter Emilie joined Barton the next time he played at the cinema. Emilie provided narration for a little look behind the scenes.
The cinema was right next to the local “Monkey Temple”, which housed and fed wild macaques. Despite the theater’s success with the local community, the business shut down after the macaques took control.
Many years ago the owner had a dream to build a cinema in her hometown. It was a big success with the locals – but only for a short time as the macaques that live at the “Monkey Temple” next door, took a liking to her cinema, and collectively took control of it. They were so well organized and determined, the owner, outnumbered, had no choice but to abandon her business and just let the macaques take over as they wished to.
Barton also plays piano for the macaques who dwell at Dong’s Auto Parts Shop, also in Lopburi.
The shop is a haven for macaques that like human company. Dong’s family feeds them and offers a degree of protection to the young and old macaques.