Dressed in a bright funny animal costume, 11-year-old Seenlada Supat, plays soothing music on her keyboard to animals in the zoo, unfazed by a lemur climbing onto the instrument.
It was the latest in an unusual series of outdoor recitals at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, southeast of Bangkok, by the 11-year-old musician. Seenlada says she wants to keep the zoo animals company while visitor numbers are low due to Covid-19 outbreaks in Thailand.
“I’m playing music to soothe the animals to help them feel relaxed and give them company so they are not too lonely,” she told Reuters.
Seenlada says her voluntary weekly zoo performances were giving her a chance to practice before a live audience and overcome stage fright.
“I wanted them to be involved with me while I’m playing music,” she said, adding that it wasn’t a problem when an animal jumped on her keyboard, like the curious lemur. “I don’t mind, it’s as if they’re playing music with me too.”
As well as ring-tailed lemurs, her audiences have included meerkat, hippos, zebras and a range of other animals.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo director Tawin Rattanawongsawat said Seenlada’s recitals were being well received.
“We noticed that the animals were reacting,” Mr Tawin said. “They became curious while others appeared to be enjoying the music.”
Soothing macaques in Lopburi
Meanwhile, with the city empty of tourists, hungry wild macaques in Lopburi, Thailand, have been treated to a series of classical music concerts.
British pianist Paul Barton has been playing music for the monkeys after the coronavirus pandemic stopped visitors from being able to come and feed them.
“I saw a number of world news stories about how the macaques in Lopburi were not getting enough food due to the fact Thailand had closed its borders,” Paul tells Euronews Living.
“There was no longer the usual daily arrival of foreign tourists that came to have the experience of being up close to these wild and wonderful macaques and feed them.”
In the absence of tourists, the monkeys had begun fighting amongst themselves for the small amount of junk food that was available. The lack of food was making them aggressive and causing problems in Lopburi.
Paul wanted to use music to calm the animals down but also hoped that it would draw attention to the struggles they were facing. He played for them at four venues including an abandoned cinema, a car parts shop and the ancient Hindu temple they call home.
The pianist’s musical intervention seems to have worked.
“After a TV station broadcast our piano and macaques, local people in Lopburi started to appear behind the ‘monkey temple’ carrying bananas and bags of fruit for the macaques,” he explains. “People arrived with pick up trucks full of food.”