Many tons of wise old elephants displaying unusual intelligence and remarkable precision in their many new tricks
You can feel the intelligence with them. Theyre so massive but yet theyre so graceful," he said. "Its just something about them. Ive done this for over 40 years now, and still one of my favorite things is at the end of the day being in the barn, just watching them eat, sitting on a bale of hay watching them interact with each other. Its just very relaxing.
The elephant is the largest land animal, and also the nearest to man in intelligence. It understands the language of its country, obeys orders, remembers duties it has learned, likes affection and honours - more, it has virtues rare in man - honesty, wisdom, justice, and respect for the stars and reverence for the sun and the moon...
is the most respectable Animal in the world. In size he surpasses all other terrestrial creatures; and by his intelligence, he makes as near an approach to man, as matter can approach spirit.
The following incident illustrates the intelligence and keen comprehension of this interesting mammal:
As the elephant walks beside its keeper, it lowers its pillar-like legs deliberately as though conscious of the crushing force of their descending weight. Although the author has walked around the circus ring for hours with elephants in order to exercise them, he does not recall that one ever came into contact with his foot, and such an experience would indeed be unforgettable.
One evening in the South I was pacing up and down in front of the Robinson Herd.
The night was cold and I was trying to keep warm. Tom, a small bull with very long Tusks,
began rubbing against a center pole. The lamps at once commenced to swing as in a crazy dance. I shouted, “Tom, that pole!” He started to get away, but he was very slow and deliberate in all his movements, especially in doing things you asked him to do. Queen, a big cow who stood by him, put her head against his flank and gave him a push that landed him well away from the pole. She was not very obedient herself, but she knew what I wanted him to do and saw that he did it.
With the Robinson show we had a small female known as Queenie. Tillie, the star performer of the Herd,
was very much attached to Queenie, and if the latter made any noise while the elephant act was in progress, Tillie would break away and race back to the menagerie, with the whole Herd
at her heels. At Cumminsville, a suburb of Cincinnati, we had such a stampede, and the people lost their heads and rushed down on to the hippodrome track. The whole Herd
went through the crowd on the double quick without hurting a single individual, illustrating the exceeding carefulness of this, the largest of the world’s land mammals. Some big strong man with a tent stake always had to be set to guard Queenie and make all sorts of dire threats as to what he would do to her if she dared open her mouth.
We fed the Herd
a mash of bran and oats once or twice a day, placing a pile of this food between each pair of elephants. Tillie and Queen, the two largest members of the Herd,
stood together. Almost invariably Tillie would divide the pile, quite equally and fairly, pulling her share over closer to her. But when Queen was looking the other way, she did. not scruple to reach over and take a handful (or trunkful) off Queen’s pile.
I think the tallest elephant I have ever seen alive is the big African now in the New York Zoological Park. He is 9 Feet,
3 ¼ inches tall, and is estimated to weigh 6ooo pounds. He is vicious and cannot be handled. He has worn off his Tusks
back beyond the lips by Fighting
the bars of his enclosure. One needs only to look at the rounded forehead and much smaller brain case of the African elephant to expect less intelligence from him than from his Asiatic cousin.
By exposing elephants to mirrors, scientists have spotted a hidden side of the giant creatures: the ability to recognize themselves. Self-recognition in mirrors is rare among animals.
To test that theory, Reiss and two colleagues from Emory University placed mirrors in the yard where three Asian elephants live at the Bronx Zoo in New York. All three elephants displayed unusual, self-directed behavior in front of the mirror. Such behavior included pulling their Ears
back and forth with their Trunks
and eating hay in front of the reflection, often swinging the bales as though testing the image.
Only one of the elephants, named Happy, completed the highest level of mirror self-recognition, known as the "mark test." During part of the study, the researchers placed a white "X" above one eye of each elephant. After approaching the mirror, Happy touched the mark with her Trunk
12 times in 90 seconds — a high rate for an atypical behavior.
To make sure the sight and not the feel of the "X" caused the excess touching, the researchers also placed an invisible "X" of the same texture above her other eye. Happy never tried to touch this false mark, Reiss' team reports in the Nov. 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.