Elephants Cooperate With One Another As Well As Apes Do
One more of the amazing things about elephants: Researchers at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center have determined that Asian elephants cooperate with one another at least as well as chimpanzees.Using established cooperation tests where two test animals must pull on separate ropes to receive an award, the researchers found that,
The least we can conclude is that the elephants demonstrated cooperative behavior in this experiment with attention to their partner's presence and actions, thus showing a well-developed propensity toward partner-oriented, deliberate cooperation. These results put elephants, at least in terms of how quickly they learn the critical contingencies of cooperation, on a par with apes.
I'll add that the timing of the publication of this research couldn't be better in relation to Yes! Magazine's new issue highlighting the emotional life of animals--which includes stories of empathy among elephants and the reuniting after 20 years of two rescued circus elephants.