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LAMPANG, THAILAND, April, 23, 2001: 59-year-old American Richard Lair, aka Professor Elephant, is the conductor of the world's first and only elephant orchestra comprising 12 jumbos on a wide range of ingenious percussion, string and woodwind instruments. While Phangkhawt and her fellow musicians are unlikely to put the Vienna Philharmonic out of business, their 19-track compact disc got a warm review from Robert Halliday, classical music critic for the Bangkok Post. "The results of this inter-species musical experiment are, at their best, so communicative that I defy listeners unfamiliar with the circumstances to spot them as non-human in origin." Lair and fellow conservationists hope the CD will draw attention to the tragedy of Thailand's domestic elephant population, which is down to 2,500 from some 100,000 a century ago. Funds garnered through the elephants' performances and CD go back into conservation of the species. So after music, painting and an occasional Hollywood role, what can the elephants do for an encore? "The next step," says Lair, "is to teach them how to write novels."