Empathetic elephants console each other with gentle touches when frightened.
by Maria Mooney
Categories: Animals, Causes.

Much like human beings, Asian elephants use gentle touch and sounds to console one another when they are experiencing fear. This new and exciting information comes out of a study published in the journal Peerj and proves what we already know; that animals have feelings that cannot be discredited.

Joshua Plotnik, a lecturer in conservation biology at Mahidol University in Thailand and CEO of Think Elephants International, and Frans de Waal, of Emory University, observed a group of 26 elephants for nearly a year and recorded what happened when the animals were frightened and distressed. It was observed that, when under stress, gentle touch and sounds were initiated by consoling elephants toward those elephants that were most frightened and that the consoling elephants also took on the emotions of their frightened counterparts, a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion”.

Plotnik believes his research will play a part in elephant conservation, stating, “In Asia, we are faced with large-scale human/elephant conflict issues, and real frustration with the lack of understanding of howand why elephants are attacking people and raiding crops. Although we know that loss of natural habitat is a real instigator of these problems, a better understanding of elephant physical and social intelligence could really help us develop comprehensive conservation protocols that take the elephants’ perspective into account.”

This is just another example of the emotional intelligence of these remarkable animals and their capacity for empathy, an emotional response that is thought to be reserved for human beings only. Let’s hope that by seeing the empathy elephants have for one another, that we may develop more empathy for them and treat them with the respect and awe that they so desperately need and deserve.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


About Maria Mooney

Maria Mooney, MSW, LSW, is a raw vegan licensed social worker, certified holistic health coach, research and editorial assistant at KrisCarr.com and freelance writer. After years of suffering with chronic health conditions, she is healing herself through a plant-based diet, radical self-care and consuming self love, and she wants to teach you how to do the same. She has done it all, including the Gerson Therapy and Hippocrates Health Institute's Life Transformation program. She knows how to make delicious juices, grow wheat grass, sprout anything and everything, create mouth-watering, healthy treats, grow shoots and more! She is also licensed in the mental health field and loves to marry mental health healing with physical healing to teach her clients to be themselves, love themselves and heal themselves. Contact her at MariaMooney.com for a free health consultation today!

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