Elephant intelligence – Things you should know

Comprehending the elephant cognition

Elephant intelligence

When people talk about cognitively intelligent animals, they usually talk about apes, crows, dolphins etc, but often underestimate the intelligence of elephants. When it comes to the elephant’s brain, it’s just over 5kg. The need for such a large organ becomes quite clear when the abilities and behaviors of these animals are considered. Their brain is particularly designed to accomplish different types of life learnings.

Here’re some major abilities that would help one understand elephant intelligence clearly.


Ability to express empathy

It has been observed in a recent study that Asian elephants comfort each other when in distress. They used both vocal sounds and physical contact to offer comfort, emitting small chirps and stroking each other with their trunks. The study on elephant intelligence concluded that this behavior is best resembled with similar consolation responses expressed by apes.


Ability to learn and remember

Here’s another example that can be quite helpful to understand high level of elephant cognition. Elephants eat a diverse range of foods and they cover huge distances to get them. They understand where to go and at what time. They learn and remember this. The old adage that says “an elephant never forgets” seems to be fairly true here.


Ability to use tools

Elephants use their prehensile trunks to perform manipulative movements similar to the ones done by the primates with their thumb and fingers. Elephants pick up objects like rocks, logs etc and hurl them at their opponents. They also use logs to neutralize electrified fences among other kinds of activities, all of which demonstrate how intelligent an elephant is.


Call to action:

What are your thoughts on elephants’ intelligence level? Let me know in the comments section below. To keep the conversation going, you can also reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. If you want to learn more about elephant intelligence, be sure to check out my book TAMBO: AN ELEPHANT ADVENTURE.



HULLINGER, JESSICA. “7 Behaviors That Prove Elephants Are Incredibly Smart.” MENTAL FLOSS, April 1, 2017. http://mentalfloss.com/article/82384/12-times-animals-interrupted-news-reports

Yount, Rory. “How Smart Are Elephants?” THE BLOG, February 19, 2015, Updated December 6, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-smart-are-elephants_b_6718286

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