Elephants are particularly social animals, living in tight matriarchial family groups. When a calf is born, adults and others of the herd will gather around the newborn, touching and caressing it with their trunks.
Quick to stand and follow their mother and family herd, newborns are the center of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years.
Known to have memories that span years, they form close lifelong relationships with their families, greeting each other with intertwined trunks, talking to each other over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that other elephants can receive through the sensitive skin on their feet and trunks. Highly intelligent, they display signs of grief, joy, anger and play, and show empathy for the dying or dead members of their herd.
“Family is not an important thing. It is everything.” — Michael J. Fox
Photos of African Elephants on the Serengeti,Tanzania, by Mary O’Connor, © 2011.