Elephants look more like us than you think. Whether it’s mourning the loss of a loved one or comforting their friends, chatting with their fellow herds or looking in the mirror, these magnificent creatures have shown endless behaviors that many thought were unique to humans. With fewer than 650,000 elephants remaining on the planet, they are in real danger of extinction, and it is our job to protect them.
Faced with habitat loss, threats of poaching and mal mistreatment in captivity, these intelligent and social animals share many common traits with the very species that caused them the most problems – us. To raise awareness of their plight and help them understand the complexity of elephant society, here are ten ways elephants look like us:
10. They Know How Important Family Is
The family is at the heart of elephant life, and they are not ashamed to show their happiness when they are among their loved ones. Just see how happy this family herd is to play together in the rain.
9. They Comfort Upset Friends
Elephants recognize when their friends are upset and offer comforting caresses and chirping of sympathy to reassure them that everything will be fine.
8. They Love to Chat (Or Rather Trumpet)
Squeaking, chirping, rumbling or trumpeting, elephants have a variety of complex vocalizations that they use to communicate with members of their herd and express what they are currently feeling. Just listen to these two playful friends.
7. They Suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unfortunately, stress is no stranger to elephants. It is known that baby elephants wake up in the middle of the night screaming in terror after seeing their families being murdered and poached. This video of a broken-hearted youth refusing to leave his mother shows how difficult it is to lose a parent to an elephant.
6. They Babysit
Female elephants help to look after each other’s young. This babysitting is important for the development of elephants, as young females learn to care for young before becoming mothers themselves.
5. They Like to Look In The Mirror
Few species have the cognitive ability to recognize themselves in the mirror, but elephants have passed the test. This self-recognition demonstrates that they are able to see themselves as distinct, one of the main traits underlying empathy and complex sociality.
4. They Know How to Work Together
Elephants demonstrate an understanding of cooperation that has never been confirmed only in humans and our closest relatives. Think and calculate, they know how to work as a team. Watch this team of elephants save a baby that is caught in the strong stream of the river.
3. They Protect Those They Love
One of the most touching behaviours of elephants is how they protect those they love. If a little squeaks in distress, his mother and the others rush to protect him.
2. They Enjoy Hugging
Who doesn’t like cuddling? Much like two people greeting each other with a handshake, the elephants kiss each other wrapping their trunks together, as a personalized way to greet each other and as a sign of affection.
1. They Are Plant-Based Foodies!
Okay, maybe not all humans consider ourselves herbivores, but those of us who have a plant-based diet have this in common with the elephant. Elephants can be considered sahara eaters, they are difficult eaters who like to explore all the culinary aspects that the plant kingdom has to offer.