This amazing video of an elephant seemingly acting as lollipop lady, stopping the traffic on the road so that the rest of the herd (including babies) can safely cross seems to offer real evidence to the levels of intelligence of these animals.
According to a recent article in Scientific American, elephants may be even more intelligent than we had previously thought. The article cites an experiment at the National Zoo in Washinton D.C, where zoologists were testing one particular elephant named Kandula to see if she could solve problems. The article explains what the zoo keepers did:
“They placed sticks and sturdy cubes around the yard and strung a kind of pulley system similar to a laundry line between the roof of the elephant house and a tree. From the cable they dangled fruit-tipped bamboo branches of various lengths both within and without of Kandula’s reach. After preparing the aerial snacks they retreated out of sight, turned on a camera and waited to see what the young elephant would do. It took several days for Kandula to achieve his initial insight, but after that he repeatedly positioned and stood on the cube to wrap his trunk around food wherever the scientists suspended it; he learned to do the same with a tractor tire; and he even figured out how to stack giant butcher blocks to extend his reach.”
Previous experiments in other zoos have shown that elephants seem to recognise their own reflections, very unusual in the animal kingdom. Red tape crosses were placed on elephants’ heads and when positioned in front of mirrors, the elephants attempted to remove the crosses using their trunks – showing that they recognised the elephant in the mirror as themselves.
The fact that these incredible animals have such complex levels of intelligence and emotional understanding just proves how vitally important it is to protect them.