I’m catching up on my TiVo. And I finally watched an episode of 60 Minutes about the study of communication between elephants. I was mesmerized. (You can see the full segment here.)
I was mesmerized, but not because I didn’t believe that animals could communicate with each other. It was the depth and breadth elephant communication appears to be.
What moved me most was the death of a baby elephant. (About 7:48 into the clip.) There is footage of other elephants trying to revive the baby. There are sounds of wailing, in panic and despair. And then, scientist Andrea Turkalo speaks of the funeral that the elephants conducted for about 3 days.
About the length of an Irish Catholic wake.
The elephants lined up and slowly passed in front of the body, touching it as they did, releasing emotion (because what else could it be?) through wails and cries.
For three days.
Humans can be arrogant. We feel superior over animals. But after watching that segment, there is no denying that animals experience life with an incredible depth of emotion. While referencing the 60 Minutes segment on YouTube I found the following clip of a group of elephants saving a drowning baby elephant.
They panic. They organize. They join forces. They show relief.
An elephant never forgets. And they are more like us, in so many ways, then we’d care to admit.
(For more information and conservation education of elephants visit the Association of Zoos and Aquarium website.)