Sara Boboltz The Huffington Post 12/08/2014 13:30 BST |Updated 06/12/2017 22:18 GMT page 2
3. Elephants also understand teamwork. In a 2011 experiment, researchers in Thailand devised a system in which two elephants could reach a platform of food only if each pulled her own rope. Pulling one end got them nowhere. Not only did all of the test subjects figure out the rope system, but they understood the importance of a helping handtrunk -- they couldn't get to the food by themselves. One especially clever elephant, though, thought up a way to game the system. Instead of pulling on her end of the rope, she simply stood on it, forcing her partner to do all the work in pulling. (There's always that one.)
4. And they grieve for their loved ones. It's long been thought that elephants grieve -- they're even capable of shedding tears. Deceased elephants are buried under dust, branches and leaves, and a mother elephant may stay with the body of a deceased calf for days. In one experiment, researchers at the University of Sussex found elephants have a strong interest in their own dead, preferring to investigate the skull of a deceased elephant over a piece of wood or the skull of a rhino.
When members of a herd pass a dead elephant, they've been observed silently touching the bones, perhaps out of respect.
And when members of a herd lose a beloved family member, they become visibly and audibly distressed. Other herds may visit the body, as well. Although elephants have been observed displaying markedly less interest in the carcasses of other animals, one anecdote suggests otherwise. In 2004, an African elephant trampled a human mother and child to death in Kenya. Before leaving the scene, however, it covered the bodies in leaves and twigs.
5. After all, elephant families have a lifelong bond. Unlike most human societies in history, elephant herds are matriarchal, where one female cow presides over a herd of females and adolescents. Adult males, meanwhile, roam either alone or in bachelor herds. The strongest relationship is between mother and child -- mothers and daughters, in particular, will usually remain together their entire lives until the mother passes away. And it's not uncommon for responsibility of the herd to be passed down to the deceased matriarch's closest female relative.