It’s Time to Accept That Elephants, Like Us, Are Empathetic Beings

The evidence for empathy in elephants seems overwhelming, so can we now draw on our own empathetic nature to end their slaughter?


Elephants, we all know, are in peril. We humans are waging what amounts to a war against them because they have something we want and cannot make on our own: ivory.

Earlier this month, we learned that the West African country of Gabon has lost more than half its elephants—11,000—in the last ten years alone.

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Elephant Empathy:

One Example After Another

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But why did it take an experiment? Research on elephants is full of examples of the animals apparently behaving empathetically—recognizing and responding to another elephant’s pain or problem. Often, they even make heroic efforts to assist one another.