African elephants often bury dead or sleeping humans or aid them when they are hurt. One woman fell asleep under a tree and woke to find an elephant standing over her gently touching her. As other elephants arrived they buried her under branches. She was found the next morning unharmed.

Elephant cognition

Scientists often debate the extent to which elephants feel emotion. Elephants have been one of few species of mammals other than Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals known to have or have had any recognizable ritual around death. Elephants show a keen interest in the bones of their own kind (even unrelated elephants that have died long ago). They are often seen gently investigating the bones with their trunks and feet while remaining very quiet. Sometimes elephants that are completely unrelated to the deceased still visit their graves.

Elephant researcher Martin Meredith recalls in his book an occurrence of a typical elephant death ritual as witnessed by Anthony Hall-Martin, a South African biologist who had studied elephants in A… Continue Reading (14 minute read)

6 thoughts on “African elephants often bury dead or sleeping humans or aid them when they are hurt. One woman fell asleep under a tree and woke to find an elephant standing over her gently touching her. As other elephants arrived they buried her under branches. She was found the next morning unharmed.”

  1. CiderMcbrandy

    Elephants are wonderful, and should be respected.

  2. PrinceMachiavelliest

    Some really interesting information in the link. Especially this story:

    “Two members of the family were shot by poachers, who were subsequently chased off by the remaining elephants. Although one of the elephants died, the other, named Tina, remained standing, but with knees beginning to give way. Two family members, Trista and Teresia (Tina’s mother), walked to both sides of Tina and leaned in to hold her up. Eventually, Tina grew so weak, she fell to the ground and died. However, Trista and Teresia did not give up but continually tried to lift her. They managed to get Tina into a sitting position, but her body was lifeless and fell to the ground again. As the other elephant family members became more intensely involved in the aid, they tried to put grass into Tina’s mouth. Teresia then put her tusks beneath Tina’s head and front quarters and proceeded to lift her. As she did so, her right tusk broke completely off, right up to the lip and nerve cavity. The elephants gave up trying to lift Tina but did not leave her; instead, they began to bury her in a shallow grave and throw leaves over her body. They stood over Tina for the night and then began to leave in the morning. The last to leave was Teresia.”

  3. WattsAGigawatt

    I dunno, waking up from a nap with an elephant standing right over me would absolutely freak me out.

  4. valuesandnorms

    Elephants are incredibly sophisticated and emotionally intelligent. They pass knowledge from one generation to the next and adolescent elephants help take care of their younger siblings and cousins.

    There’s an rescue center called Sheldrick where people raise and teach teach orphan elephants whose mothers have been shot by human scum poachers. They take care of these elephants for years and then reintroduce them into the wild. It’s not uncommon for “graduates” to come back with their own children and introduce her old keepers and her new baby.

    Truly incredible creatures.

    If any of you are in the Bronx, the zoo there has an elephant in solitary confinement. There has been tremendous pressure on them to move her to a sanctuary but they refuse. So if you are a constituent maybe you can add your two cents in. The zoo appears to have just won a case to allow them to keep her

    [“Happy”](https://www.nonhumanrights.org/client-happy/)

  5. TechyDad

    There’s an Elephants documentary on Disney+. At one point, the group passes by the bones of a dead elephant. They line up and gently touch the bones with their tusks in a sort of “pay respects to the dead” ritual. They even teach the young elephants what to do.

  6. Random_user_no_name

    Elephants, the incredibly wonderful creatures the world needs, but doesn’t deserve

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