Beyond Your Backyard - Elephants Take Time To Mourn Their Dead

Tara and Bella - photo by Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary

Tara and Bella - photo by Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary

By Kimberly J. Epp.

Elephants are one of the few species, along with corvids and chimpanzees, that actually mourn their dead. 

Grieving and funeral rituals are well documented in pachyderms. 

Upon seeing the bones of an elephant, whether related or not, the herd will stop to pay their respects. They will gently caress the bones with their trunks, remain very quiet and cover the bones with leaves and grass. If the elephant was one of their own, the herd may stay with the bones/carcass for days to weeks. And yes, elephants do cry.

It's also not uncommon for an elephant to die in mourning, after losing the will to live following the death of a loved one. After the rescued elephant Tarra lost her best friend, which was a dog, she went into a period of grieving. Thankfully, the other rescued elephants took her under their wing and helped her come out of her depression. Such compassionate beings while humans kill each other and turn blind eyes to the suffering of others. 

An elephant stops to mourn one of his departed comrades - source unknown

An elephant stops to mourn one of his departed comrades - source unknown

Elephants are so compassionate that they will even grieve and bury their #1 killer - that would be us. 

In Kenya, a human mother and son were trampled by an elephant. Afterwards, the elephant stopped to bury them. I might just add that not only are they compassionate, they are also forgiving. No rescued elephant has ever harboured grudges against humans. 

But the greatest show of compassion from elephants to humans was following the death of Lawrence Anthony, also known as the Elephant Whisperer.

He was known for his ability to calm traumatized elephants. He had rescued a herd of highly traumatized, violent and rogue South African elephants. Both rescued herds came to say goodbye to him on the date he passed, but how had they known he had died?  For 12 hours they walked until they reached his home. The first herd arrived a day before the other. Both herds stayed around the home of the former elephant whisperer for two days before making their way back to the bush.

Please feel free to share this article. Through education, we can end the exploitation of elephants.

Never ride an elephant. Only visit approved sanctuaries. Don't go to circuses that exploit elephants and other wild animals. Don't visit temple elephants. Elephants deserve to be in the wild. They don't deserve to be poached, trophy killed and exploited. Take the time to also be kind to your fellow human. Take a lesson from pachyderms in compassion and acceptance of others.


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