Elephants Empathetic Behavior

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 7,023
    Elephants display empathy in the presence of fellow elephants under distress according to observation made by a team of researchers from Emory University.

     Just as we humans empathetically give a hug or consoling word, so do elephants say researchers at Emory University.  After a year of observing 26 Asian elephants in Thailand, the team noted that the animals were much more likely to interact with a distressed individual rather than during uneventful periods.  They observed elephants touching their trunk to their face or placing their trunk in the mouth of another distressed animal.  They likened the behavior to a human handshake or a hug.  They also observed vocalizations during distressed times—a high, chirping sound---not heard when elephants were alone.  They said this maybe was similar to us saying, “Shhh...it’s okay.”  Up to now, such behavior had only been observed in humans, chimpanzees, canines, and some birds.