EleFact Friday: Symbiotic Relationships in the Wild

We’ve shared before about how the elephants in sanctuary interact with the other critters around the property. From dogs to tapirs to goats and sheep, the five girls seem to get along with almost everyone, or at least are able to exist peacefully beside each other. For today’s EleFACT, we want to talk about what kind of relationships elephants have with other members of the animal community in the wild. 

Symbiotic relationships between species are fascinating to observe, as both parties benefit from each other in unique ways. Not only do elephants share habitats and space with other creatures, but it seems they share these special type relationships as well. 

Elephants have been observed to work closely with olive baboons in the country of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. Studies have shown that elephants dig water holes that the baboons drink from, and elephants rely on the baboons to alert them of incoming threats of danger from their homes in the treetops.

Oxpeckers and cattle egrets are two species of birds that land on elephants and spend their days eating lice, ticks, and other parties out of the elephants’ skin and hair. The elephants benefit by having dangerous critters removed from their bodies, and the oxpeckers get a snack and a free ride. It’s also been seen that oxpeckers, like the olive baboons, warn elephants of danger when they spot predators, by emitting loud screams.

Living in the wild, or even at sanctuary, allows for elephants to experience life the way they are meant to: by interacting not only with each other, but with other members of the animal kingdom, allowing them to truly thrive physically and emotionally.

Photo of Bambi, a special friend to many here in sanctuary


  1. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    My beautiful Bambi ❤️❤️ What about in the Sanctuary, have you observed any symbiotic relationship between our girls and native critters ?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Not really. Bambi was initially wary of George the tapir. But otherwise, they don’t really interact with the other animals. Occasionally the dogs will travel with us to the habitat, but they know how to keep their distance.

  2. REPLY
    Barb says

    Perfect way to enjoy Friday! EleFacts are always a welcome treat!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We’re glad you enjoy them. We really like writing them.

  3. REPLY
    Pauline says

    Thank you! I love to learn these wonderful things!

  4. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    What a beautiful close up of Bambi! I always enjoy Ele Fact Friday. Thank you once again for your great informative posts about the fabulous girls.

  5. REPLY
    terry says

    Bambi is divine and transformed!!! All those bumps are gone!

  6. REPLY
    maddie says

    I love it i think they a wonderful and amazing

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