Last week, we watched The Cove, a documentary about the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. It was horrific and disheartening to see the way the animals there are treated and how it’s kept a secret from the public. Something that really struck me though was human’s ability to empathize with the dolphins. Dolphins are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they are said to be one of the smartest species in the world. They experience real emotions, have self awareness, and communicate through verbal language. This reminded me a bit of another species on land that is said to be incredibly smart: elephants.
Elephants also have well developed brains. Unfortunately, being the largest animals on land does not spare them from human hunting and slaughter. Elephants in Asia, though having no natural predator, are endangered due to a high demand of ivory (elephant tusks) on the black market. Over 100,000 elephants were killed from 2010-2012. To get to the tusks, poachers will cut off the head of the elephant and leave the body to rot.
Here are some facts as to why elephants are such amazing creatures:
– Elephants have mourning rituals when a member of their herd passes away.
– Elephants prefer one tusk over another, similar to how a human can be right handed or lefthanded, and uses their tusks for self defense, digging for water, and lifting things.
– Elephants have incredible memories (Horton Hears a Who, anyone?) and can laugh, cry, and play.
– Elephants have “welcome home” parties when an elephant who has been away returns to their herd
– Elephants will sometimes hug each other by entwining their trunks in a display of affection.
– Elephants purr like cats do as a means of communication.
– Elephants can live to be over 70 years old, but females only give birth to an average of 4 calves