San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Robert Selna, recently visited the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, where I filmed for 2 days in August (“Production Days 8-9: Elephant Nature Park“) and spent time with the founder, Lek Chailert.
Selna’s 5 Take-Aways from his visit are:
1Elephants recognize themselves as individuals in mirrors. The experiment was done recently at the Bronx Zoo on three elephants, who, upon seeing their own image in the mirror, responded with self-referential behaviors. One elephant, Maxine, used it to examine the inside of her mouth and back of her ear.
2One way elephants communicate is through infrasound – sound too low in frequency to be audible by humans. Infrasound can travel through the air, through water, through rock, through forest and through the earth. Elephant infrasonic communication can take place over a distance of up to 2.5 miles.
3Some elephants live in matriarchies. They have family units consisting of only adult females, young of both sexes, and a leader who is the oldest and most knowledgeable female.
4Elephants are emotional animals. They don’t weep, but they do pour fluids out of a gland located halfway between the eye and ear in times of great emotional excitement.
5Elephants are caring and empathetic animals. When a member of a social group falls – from illness, for instance – or becomes stuck in mud or water, others will move in and try to raise the debilitated animal to its feet and keep it moving. Sometimes adult females will care for – babysit – an infant or young elephant who has been orphaned or temporarily separated from its mother.