15032If Onl;y Humans Would......
- Aug 10, 2006From Yahoo News:
Elephants show capacity for compassion, scientists find
LONDON (AFP) - Elephants pay their respects to lost loved ones and
venerated leaders in a way that suggests a human-like capacity for
compassion, scientists have said.
In a paper to appear in a scientific journal this month, researchers
said Tuesday they came to this conclusion after watching how
elephants on a Kenyan game reserve behaved towards a matriarch who
fell ill and died.
The dying elephant -- named Eleanor by the researchers from Britain
and the United States -- was first assisted by an unrelated matriarch
from another family.
At one point the helper, called Grace, was observed lifting the
collapsed animal to her feet using her tusks. When Eleanor fell
again, Grace tried again to lift her up -- this time without success.
Eleanor died where she fell, and was subsequently visited by
elephants not only from her own family, but from four other families
All the animals showed a distinct interest in the body, the
scientists discovered, sniffing it with their trunks, hovering a foot
over it, or nudging it with their tusks.
"It leads to the conclusion that elephants have a generalised
response to suffering and death... and that this is not restricted to
kin," they wrote in a paper for the August issue of Applied Animal
The research was led by Iain Douglas-Hamilton, from the zoology
department at Oxford University, who founded the charity Save the
With colleagues from the University of California, his team monitored
50 animals on the Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya,
tracking them with GPS collars and taking automatically dated and
Most animals, apart from humans, seem to show little interest in the
dead bodies of their own species -- but chimpanzees, dolphins and
elephants are all known to show concern for the sick and dead, the
"This behaviour in an animal species can be compared to human
behaviour, and indicates that such feelings as compassion may not be
restricted to our species alone," Douglas-Hamilton said.
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