We’ve spent quite a bit of time lately talking about the emotional abilities of elephants, especially as they navigate grief. Elephants are highly emotionally intelligent animals, as we all know and have seen firsthand through the experiences we share with the ladies of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. For today’s EleFACT, we’ll examine how biology has helped these animals become the emotional beings they are.
It’s been proven that not only are elephants large bodied, but they also have quite sizable brains. Studies have shown that elephants have a very big and highly complex hippocampus, the part of the brain that greatly contributes to emotion, is connected to short and long term memory, and aids in navigation. Researchers have found that the elephant hippocampus takes up 0.7% of the central structures of the brain in elephants, as compared to only 0.5% in humans.
Biologically, we can pretty safely attribute the emotional capabilities of elephants to their mental makeup – but it seems as if the empathy and comfort that we have witnessed, especially in the last few weeks as Guillermina and the other girls process Pocha’s passing, come from a place deeper than their brains. Elephants are complex and we may never be able to totally understand some things about how they feel, what they know, and what they remember. Their ability to comfort one another (and even us, at times), communicate emotionally, and understand the feelings of others may never be totally explained; some things may just be their secrets to keep.
Photo of Rana