Elephants are known to be one of the most intelligent species on Earth, right along with cetaceans and primates (which includes humans).
According to Wikipedia, the elephant brain of elephants is similar to that of humans in terms of structure and complexity. Elephants exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, mimicry, play, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory, and language. Further, evidence suggests elephants may understand pointing: the ability to nonverbally communicate an object by extending a finger, or equivalent. All indicate that elephants are highly intelligent; it is thought they are equal with cetaceans and primates in this regard. Due to the high intelligence and strong family ties of elephants, some researchers argue it is morally wrong for humans to cull them. Aristotle once said that elephants were “the animal which surpasses all others in wit and mind.”
I learned a lot about elephants when I read the book Modoc, which I reviewed here.
In Thailand, wild elephants were once abundant, but now there are only about 2,000 left. In contrast, 4,000 elephants are kept in captivity by humans, both for work and for tourism. It is the highlight of many a vacation to have a picture taken riding an elephant.
I was shocked when I saw this video, which exposes some of the abuse of the elephants, just so tourists can have their pictures. This is a must-see video for anyone about to travel to Thailand.