An elephant being touched by a human
Can you pet elephant?

Do All Elephants Like to Be Petted? Or Does it Depend On The Upbringing?

No, not all elephants like to be touched by humans. In the wild, elephants avoid people or get aggressive towards humans as they are not used to them. But in captivity, experts have trained adult elephants to accept human touch. Elephants that have grown up with humans from a baby can enjoy being petted.

Can you pet a wild elephant?

There are no wild pet elephants, and you cannot pet a wild elephant without getting hurt or the elephant running away.

All the elephants you see in various zoos and institutions are only first- or second-generation captive-bred. 

Why are elephants so special?

The intelligence level of elephants is significantly higher than other mammals. That is what makes the elephants extremely special. 

Like us, elephants also showcase compassion and complex emotions towards family and friends.

Elephants are highly social animals, and they live in herds. African elephant herds can get together and form clans that may contain hundreds of elephants. 

Just like humans, elephants also have self-awareness. That means elephants can recognise themselves when they see their reflection in a mirror.

Elephants can recognise their friends and family even if they have spent many years apart.

See the video below of Shirley and Jenny, who spent more than 20 years apart and how they were so happy to see each other. PS you may need some tissues to watch this; it’s beautiful.

Shirley and Jenny – watch them greet each other again after all those years.

Elephants Weakness 

These gentle giants have a massive body mass which goes in their favour; however, one of their disadvantages is that elephants are not naturally aggressive like many other wild animals. Their weakness is kindness!

It is easier to tame elephants than other wild animals, like rhinos, hippos or bears. 

The high levels of intelligence and memory have also helped humans to tame the elephants. By nature, elephants like to avoid conflict; however, they often come up tops when needed.

Elephants usually only fight with each other during the mating season. Even the captive elephants show this fighting behaviour. The captivated elephants also can become aggressive towards even their trainers during this time.

Do Elephants Fear The Humans?

Wild elephants are afraid of males the most. They can tell a human child from an adult male or female. 

Poachers may be mainly young male adults; because elephants have seen this, they don’t like male humans. 

Females and even small boys do not scare them. Old males don’t scare them, either.

If they face such threatening humans in the wild, most elephants run away from the situation instead of getting into confrontations.

Elephants Support Other Species

Elephants are not unique because of their vast size but because they play an essential role in the ecosystem. They are like ecosystem engineers. That means an entire ecosystem relies on the presence of elephants. If the elephants vanish from Earth someday, that whole ecosystem will collapse automatically.

While moving from one place to the next, the elephants push the trees over, which helps to maintain the Savanna ecosystem. They also excavate holes in search of water and fertiliser lands with their droppings, allowing other animals to thrive.

Not only that, you can find elephants in various ecosystems. In Africa alone, elephants live in grasslands, Savanna forests, deserts, mountains, and even swamps.

Elephants Affect Vegetation

Most people think that the definition of big trees and the presence of elephants are correlated somehow. However, that is not the case. There is no doubt that the elephants break the big trees to feed or make paths. They push over, debark, or even stunt the growth of the big trees. However, in doing that, they disperse seeds, open up woodlands, and fertilise the landscape. 

Studies have shown that elephants destroy about 4% of the trees in the protected area of southern Africa. While the laws of the big trees are undeniable, the change the elephants bring to the vegetation’s structure should also be appreciated. 

It would help if you also understood that elephants are not solely responsible for destroying trees in a forest. Impalas eat a far greater volume of tree seedlings compared to elephants. The combination of flood, fire, the eating habit of other herbivores, disease, and drought leads to the survival rates of the tree.

Do elephants die when their mate dies?

Elephants are very empathetic and can feel hurt when someone they love dies. In extreme cases, elephants can die of a broken heart, especially if only two of them are together. In herds, when an elephant has lost someone they love, they often become very sad. Elephants also mourn for other elephants who have died, and they often go to the place where their friends or relatives died to be close to them and honour their memory. 

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.