Elephant Joy
Trunk Full of Tales


Elephants often express what can only be described as joy in many different facets of their lives. Due to our lack of knowledge of their expressions only the most blatant responses can be partially understood.  

Smile!Some cases in which Elephants show explicit joy is 

  • In the greeting of a friend or family member (even a human friend)
  • After the birth of a baby elephant
  • Playing games  

Typically this expression of joy takes place in the form of a greeting ceremony. Obviously, there are may other aspects to this ceremony that goes without recognition, but joy is one of the most predominant factors. When family members or friends meet, they can be seen to become collectively involved in a joyous meeting. This is usually observed when a friend or family member is absent for a long time. When he/she returns, an incredible welcoming takes place. During this greeting the elephants involved will spin around, defecate, and urinate. With their heads held high, and ears flapping they fill the air with a symphony of trumpets, rumbles, screams, and roars. 


Elephant SmileMany accounts have been recorded on the fact that Elephants work with their environment and engage in games of throwing objects, twisting, and interacting with their characteristics. Typically, elephants begin a playing session by trumpeting. Elephants engage in solitary play as well as in group play. Typically, in many species playing behaviour is limited to the younger aged animals that are going through a stage of growth that involves a flexibility of behavour to prepare them for survival in the world. This type of playing involves elephants young and old--acting in expressions of personality-- having fun. A good exampe of this is recounted in the the book The Fate Of The Elephant. Douglas Chadwick records a story that Joyce Pool observed in the Amboseli Reserve. While she was winding up a string that was set down to mark out a vegetation study plot, elephants came indifferent to such feelings of fear, and shyness and had a blast. They started trumpeting, racing around. One elephant wound it around her trunk, and the other whirled it around winding it around all her four legs. They off they bounded into the bush playing, and taking the string with them.

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