Elephants Have Capacity for Compassion, Study Says
Posted on Aug 8, 2006
The study detailed the way elephants responded with apparent concern to a member that fell ill and died, a relative rarity in the animal kingdom.
Rarer still is evidence suggesting that elephants of the political type mean to make good on their promise to infuse their conservatism with compassion.
Elephants pay their respects to lost loved ones and venerated leaders in a way that suggests a human-like capacity for compassion, scientists have said.
In a paper to appear in a scientific journal this month, researchers said Tuesday they came to this conclusion after watching how elephants on a Kenyan game reserve behaved towards a matriarch who fell ill and died.
The dying elephant—named Eleanor by the researchers from Britain and the United States—was first assisted by an unrelated matriarch from another family.
At one point the helper, called Grace, was observed lifting the collapsed animal to her feet using her tusks. When Eleanor fell again, Grace tried again to lift her up—this time without success.
AP / Jake Schoellkopf