Elephant with trunk up coming towards camera
Elephant Greeting

Are Elephants Friendly?

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  • Post category:Elephants
  • Post last modified:5 February 2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Some elephants can be as friendly as people. They are caring and gentle to each other and other animals. But they might get angry if they feel threatened or need to protect their herd of young elephants. How friendly an elephant is towards you depends on that individual elephant’s personality and life experiences. Elephants have unforgettable memories and can remember situations and people very well.

Wild Elephants

As these animals have to fight for survival, wild elephants can become highly unpredictable, just like most other wild animals. That does not mean wild elephants want to harm us particularly. In the wild, they want to live their life peacefully without any human interference. 

Elephants are protective of their babies. That means if you approach the baby elephant in any threatening way, the chances are, the mother and other older members of the herd will treat you as a threat. 

Another time elephants can become very angry towards humans, and other animals are during their mating season. 

During this period, the testosterone level of the male elephant becomes 60% higher than the average level. That is what makes the elephants highly irritated and excited all at the same time. 

During this period, it is wiser for a human to stay clear of the wild male elephants. 

If you, by chance, come upon an elephant in the wild during this period, the best strategy is to back off slowly without making any eye contact with the elephant. During the mating season, the bull elephants often consider direct eye contact a challenge that you can never win in any situation.

Captive Elephants Form Bond with Humans

Elephants that have been rescued from the wild and given shelter in places tend to bond with their rescuers. 

Elephants like to form a bond with people who respect and take care of them.

If a baby elephant was raised by humans and plans to be released back into the wild, they need to do this with great care. Elephants need to be around their own kind, and they thrive from each other. Elephants can become highly lonely if they are on their own. That’s why as a rescuer, you need to have some boundaries but still teach a baby elephant to be an elephant. 

Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures with amazing memories. That means they remember every abuse and mistreatment they had to suffer during their life till the date they get rescued. So, an abused elephant can become friendly towards the rescuer, but at the same time, it can become highly irritated towards the people who order them around. All in all, if you are just an elephant enthusiast, it is always advisable to check the health and other conditions of the elephants from a couple of 100 meters of distance.

Recommended read: Do Elephants Like to Be Petted?

Best Mother Award Goes To The Elephants

The gestation period of elephants is exceptionally high. The mother elephant carries the baby elephant for almost two years. Once the baby is born, the mother nurses it for years and protects it from every kind of danger. Even the other female herd members take on the responsibility together and help out with the arrival of the young. 

baby elephant wrapping trunk around it mother
Baby Elephant and Its mum

Elephants have so much empathy towards each other. They are always consoling and comfort each other, especially during a distressing situation, just like us humans but even better. 

Elephants Mourn Their Dead

Elephants have so much empathy and intelligence that they demonstrate extreme mourning of a loss of an elephant. 

If an elephant of a herd dies, the rest of the elephants showcase a kind of behaviour that has significant similarities with mourning and grief like us humans. 

The elephants caress the dead bones with their trunks and often stand near the deceased’s body for hours and even days.

Sometimes it has been seen that the elephants are trying to bury the remains of the dead elephant.

Elephants often return to the scene of a dying elephant many months after to mourn their friend or family. 

Elephants do not showcase the same kind of behaviour towards other animals, but they get highly saddened of their own.

Elephants Can Mimic the Human Voice

There is a possibility that elephants can mimic human voices. In 2012, an elephant named Kosik mimicked five Korean words. Considering the anatomical difference between an elephant and a human, Kosik achieved the five words. There is no doubt that the elephants do not comprehend the meaning of the words more than likely. Elephants often try to mimic the sound of their trainers’ voices to form a bond with them. However, mimicking the behaviour of humans can only be achieved among elephants who have been in human contact during their formative years. Mimicking, if it is true, goes to show how intelligent and in-touch elephants are.

Kosik achieved the sounds by putting his trunk into his mouth and making the sound.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. Teresa has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.