Elephants Embrace Each Other During Distress: Study
By Parismita Goswami | February 19, 2014 6:45 PM EST
According to a new study, Asian elephants recognize when a herd mate is upset and offer gentle care and sympathy.
Joshua Plotnik, a behavioral ecologist at Mahidol University in Kanchanaburi, Thailand and primatologist Frans de Waal, director of Emory University's Living Links Center did a thorough study to check exactly what these animals believe in and relate to during their times of hardship.
Elephants Consoles Each Other During Distress: Study Finds
The researchers observed 26 elephants of different ages at the Elephant Nature Park in the Mae Tang district of Chiang Main Province, Thailand. For a period of one year, the researchers spent about two weeks every month and three hours daily observing the behavior of the animals. Their findings showed evidences of "emotional contagion" when a herd mate tried consoling its upset mate.
"With their strong bonds, it is not surprising that elephants show concern for others. They get distressed when they see others in distress, reaching out to calm them down, not unlike the way chimpanzees or humans embrace someone who is upset", National Geographic quoted de Waal.
A stress-inducing situation might be a snake passing by the grass or a dog walking or a roar. At times, the reason for the stress was unknown. Sometimes mates chirped with vocal offerings that suggested the stressed one reassurance and sometimes these animals formed a shielding circle around the distressed one.
"They get distressed when they see others in distress, reaching out to calm them down, not unlike the way chimpanzees or humans embrace someone who is upset. Still, I was surprised at how consistent the elephants' consolation behavior was," said Plotnik.
The authors said that this new discovery is exciting as it shows behavioral emotions similar to that of humans.
The details of the findings have been published in the PeerJ journal.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- PageSix: Beyonce & Jay Z Union is Not About Love, All About Business & the Brand
Join the Conversation
- NASA Astronomers Unearths Mysterious Signal That 'Could Not Be Explained By Known Physics' [Watch Video]
- Richard Norris' Successful Face Transplant Lands Him in GQ Cover [WATCH VIDEOS]
- Industrial Air Pollution May Help Search for Alien Life - Scientists
- Luxury Cruise: A 'Once In A Lifetime' Trip To Experience Environment Devastation in the Arctic
- Breaking Discovery: Industrial Pollution Reached South Pole by 19th Century
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha Leaks Online: Release Date, Five Features to Wait for New Smart Phone
- Photos of Motorola Moto X+1 Prototype and Specs Leak Online, Release Date, Four Fresh Features Revealed
- Sony Xperia Z3: Release Date, Five Features to Expect from New Android Smart Phone
- 5 Food Scandals That Shocked The World
- Top Surprising Features Of iOS 8
- Top 4 Reasons Why iPhone 6 Will Hit Big Soon After its Sept 2014 Release Date
- Iran Leader Asks Muslims to Supply Arms to Palestine, Calls Israel ‘Rapacious Wolf’