Through elephant research we have been able to learn so much about their history and how they survive. There is
evidence to suggest they have been around since 200 B.C., slowly evolving in order to continually survive. What has
been observed is that there are three distinct sections of the life of an elephant. The first one is when they are
born and they are in a baby stage.
They will remain in that stage for about 14 years, with their mother caring for them for the first couple of
years of life. The entire herd of females though will jump in when necessary to care for the offspring. There is
plenty for them to learn in order to survive this type of life. Still, the baby stage is one that is also full of
fun, adventure, and plenty of affection.
The next stage is adolescence. The is when the males of the herd start venturing off for short spans of time.
Eventually they will leave the herd and not return. They will live alone or join a small group of other males out
there. The females will remain in the same herd forever.
As elephants get up in years, about 50, they will stop the mating process. Many of these older individuals in
this adult stage end up suffering from a variety of medical problems. As you can see the stages of life for
elephants are extremely similar to those of humans. This is one of the reasons why doing research on their lives is
so very interesting to us.
A great deal of the research out there about elephants has been studying their social interactions. They are so
much like humans in the way that they form very deep emotional bonds. They are also known to express a variety of
emotions among their herd as humans do. This type of research has helped us to offer them the best living quarters
in captivity. They need to have both their physical and emotional needs met there in order to thrive.
The thirst that elephants seem to have for information though is very interesting. It goes well beyond just
simple curiosity. In fact, it is for this reason that so many types of testing have been done about the learning
process for elephants. Through games and other types of materials we have seen that they can absorb mountains of
information. They also have memories that are classified as the best in the world, even better than a human’s
Since some elephants are known to attack humans, there are research programs that cover this as well. What is
extremely fascinating is that just about every single elephant attack on humans can be linked back to some type of
direct injustice to them. The fact that they can remember individuals involved even decades later is absolutely
Current research for elephants is focusing on how to help them to survive. Their natural habitat continues to be
destroyed and that is a huge problem. Effective management programs for those that are still out there is
essential. The problem though is that there is such conflicting debates about the best way to do this. Many groups
continue to share their thoughts on this. The fear is that conservation groups are wasting time working against
each other and that means no solution is in place.
There are many programs in place too that evaluate the impact that captivity has on elephants. The goal is to
keep them as safe and as happy as possible. By carefully comparing their behaviors in captivity to those of
elephants in the wild we can gauge how well we are doing.