Elephants Grieve

Elephants are some of the most emotionally intelligent animals on the planet. Some argue they might even be comparable humans. Highly social creatures, elephants live in communities with hierarchies, families and self-awareness. They can use tools, mimic sounds, solve problems and even play to amuse themselves and others.

FUNERAL RITUALS OF ELEPHANTS

BIOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO LOSS

Elephants produce tears when they are stressed or excited. They have been observed ‘crying’ when one of the herd has died. Is it grief, or simply a biological reaction to stress? (Shutterstock)

Elephants also sound different when they are grieving. They vocalize in the forms of low grumbles and high-pitched screams following a death. Behaviors such as these drive the belief that elephants grieve like humans.

Elephants bond with each other, often forming lifelong friendships. When elephants lose a friend or relative, they reject food, isolate themselves, guard the body, and sometimes die of grief.

THE MOURNING OF OTHER SPECIES

IS IT REALLY GRIEF?

HUMAN BIAS AND INTERFERENCE

Getting back to grief, the question remains: are elephants actually grieving? Or is their behavior simply interpreted by humans as a grief emotion based on the way humans grieve? It’s possible that human bias plays a role, as in the painting example.

What we do know is that elephant behavior changes when a loss has occurred, and that reaction shows strong signs of stress. There is evidence of elephant grief in the wild as well as in captivity.

CONCLUSION

Originally published on BeyondTheDash.com

Editor, blogger, orphan, grief analyst and plant parent.

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