Elephants Cooperate With One Another As Well As Apes Do

asian elephants photo

photo: OxOx/Creative Commons

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.

The results of the research were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and Mongabay has a good summary. Changthai.com has video of the elephant intelligence test.

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.

More on Elephants:
Liberia Has Lost 95 Percent Of Its Elephants to Poachers
Elephants Smart Than You Child? They Have Better Counting Ability & Can Identify Different Languages

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