Sunday, 24 January 2010

on elephants

Taken from Random Acts of Heroic Love:

“Elephants live to seventy, reach adulthood at twenty and socialize in groups. When an elephant dies in the wild, the other members of the herd will stand over the corpse for days mourning. In one case over a hundred elephants stood vigil over a dead elephant. One of them tried to pick it up and stand it on its feet nearly sixty times before eventually giving up. Sometimes they will cover the body with leaves and branches. Eventually with visible signs of distress they will leave the corpse but they often return over the following days to pay their respects. One female elephant was observed leaving the herd and walking thirty miles to visit the bones of a recently departed mate. Whenever elephants pass the place where another elephant dies they will stop and stand in silence for long periods. They might pick up the bones affectionately and hug them as if mourning the loss. In a zoo in India a female elephant watched her cage mate die while giving birth to a stillborn calf. She stood stock still for a long time until her legs eventually gave way. For three weeks she lay in one spot with her trunk curled up, her ears drooping and her eyes moist. No matter how hard they tried her keepers could not persuade her to eat. They watched her slowly starve herself to death.”

-Danny Scheinmann

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