EleFact Friday: The Elephant Ethogram

For this week’s EleFact Friday, we wanted to share a resource that we often use to not only answer questions from supporters about elephant behavior, but to continue to educate ourselves about elephant communication in the wild. 

Some of you may be familiar with ElephantVoices, an organization that is working to advance the study of elephant cognition, communication, and social behavior, led by one of our board members, Dr. Joyce Poole. An important element of ElephantVoices is the Elephant Ethogram. Based on decades of behavioral studies, photos, and audio and video recordings, this project is an extensive library of all known behaviors for African savanna elephants. It describes the singular characteristics, down to specific noises and movements and the function of each behavior, in the hopes of educating all groups of people about the complexities of the species and to inspire broader interest in elephant behavior, conservation, and welfare among professionals and supporters. 

Although all of the current elephants at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil are Asian elephants, there are certainly similarities in some of the behaviors exhibited in the Ethogram. However, it’s important to remember that because Asian and African elephants are so different behaviorally, it’s not something that can necessarily be applied to the current residents of ESB. Despite this, we highly recommend this resource and are happy to share about it with all of you.


  1. REPLY
    Barb says

    Wonderful! Thanks very much! You can never get enough information!

  2. REPLY
    Julie says

    Ty. Very interesting. I’m wondering how much of elephant communication is learned vs instinct. In other words, how would captive elephant communication compare to wild elephant communication, either Asian, African Savanah, or African Forrest

  3. REPLY
    Patricia Mitchell says

    Thank you! I always enjoy learning more about the elephants that I fight for.!!

  4. REPLY
    Bernadette Rey says

    Absolutely love Elephant Voices particularly series by her and her brother Bob. Elephants are my favourite animal on earth

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