Memories and magical elephants

These immense and soulful creatures, one of ‘natures perfections’ view the world around them through knowing eyes. Their 45lb hearts pound with compassion and love for their families. Wearing wrinkled expressions: fold upon fold of intelligence suggest that there is far more to elephants than meets the human eye. Inside those huge and noble heads, a complex and intricate organ resides which makes me ask like many others before me, ‘do elephants surpass others in wit and mind?’


We all admire magical elephants for their colossal size and incredible strength. I have come to love and respect them for their intelligence, remarkable memories and the fact that despite their formidable size, they display deep feelings of love and empathy.

Here’s a thought: when thinking about the intelligence of animals, do we compare elephants to other animals or do we compare them to humans?

Their brains, like humans are convoluted, and the temporal lobe associated to memory is highly developed. Many of the traits portrayed in humans, nature has duplicated in these large and intelligent animals.  In fact, these sentient creatures reveal to us all the goodness in creation intent on survival and not destruction.


Jumbo sized mirrors are used to test whether elephants self-awareness mirrors humans.

Elephants can recognize their own reflections in a mirror. Elephants are far more distantly related to humans than apes are and yet they seem to have developed similar social and and cognitive capacities as us. Elephants live in complex social societies thus making intelligence a part of the picture.

 These parallels between humans and elephants suggest a convergent cognitive evolution possibly related to complex sociality and cooperation.”


Do elephants have long memories?

The matriarch, the oldest and wisest in the herd offers us a breathtaking glimpse into her wisdom and understanding which she has learnt over many years from her elders. She controls the daily activities of the herd and her remarkable memory comes to the fore during times of crisis. She will dig deep, remembering what she has learnt many years before and lead her herd over a great distance to find food and water in severe droughts.

This video clip shows the reunion between Jenny and Shirley after being separated 25 years earlier. Although they are not related, their paths had crossed and watching the joy and love at their reunion, I hate to think how traumatized the separation must have been for both of them.  Do they have the ability to recognise each other? Of course they do, no matter how many years have passed. They remember.

The harmony of the herd depends of her skills which include complex communication, remembering different individuals smells and voices. They display deep feelings of compassion and an advanced sense of altruism towards their own and other species, including us humans showing signs of distress.  Do elephants understand the concept of humans pointing at something?

These sentient creatures ooze with personality and intelligence: a large mass of bubbling exuberance, lifting their trunks to sniff the air, because they can.  Like humans, they grieve deeply for loved ones, suffering deep depressions and shedding tears. They use sticks as a means to scratch those itchy places they cannot reach and according to Dame Daphne Sheldrick, they have a wicked sense of humour, and she says once you get to know them well, you can see that they even smile when they are having fun. Elephants continue to amaze us, showing their ability to paint, even though it is said they take physical instructions from their mahouts while doing so.


I care deeply about elephants, respecting and revering the fact that not only are they the largest land mammal, they are almost emotionally human. Having learnt about their love and compassion, let us unite as one and show them that us humans are also possessed with an infinite compassion towards our earthly companions. Let us allow them to live as nature intended.


4 thoughts on “Memories and magical elephants

  1. Such an interesting article – I knew about the memory being good but never thought about it in such detail! I cannot believe that there are people who want to hurt these beautiful, intelligent creatures each with their very own personalities! 🙁 Well done for what you are doing…I admire you x

  2. Amazing article and as the saying goes ” an elephant never forgets” ! Keep up the good work in the fight to save these beautiful animals from the pouchers hands. 🙂

  3. Seems there is a lot more to be said regarding the saying having a memory like an elephant. We have more in common with these majestic animals than we realise.

  4. Mind-boggling information ! –almost too much to take in !–however just goes to prove that you are ” never too old to learn ” !! The story about Shirley and Jenny was a real tear jerker–how they were making up for lost time.!–hope they had many years together ! Keep going Jen–just love your whole programme.

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