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15032If Onl;y Humans Would......

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Aug 10, 2006
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      From 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
      as well.
      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
      Behaviour Science.
      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
      timed photos.
      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
      scientists said.
      "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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