Elephants Cooperate as Well as Chimpanzees

Mongabay reports that a new study shows elephants are capable of learning to cooperate at least as well as chimpanzees.

Working with Asian elephants, researchers reconstructed a cooperation test that was originally developed for chimpanzees: the subjects must pull on a different rope simultaneously to receive a reward such as food.

Once researchers found that elephants were capable of learning to cooperate, they complicated the experiment by releasing one elephant into the experiment later than the other. The elephant released first quickly learned to wait for the other one before pulling on the rope. In terms of how quickly they learn the necessary aspects of cooperation, these results put elephants at least on a par with apes.

It is to our shame that Asian elephants are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List: conservationists believe the global population has been cut in half in three elephant generations largely due to habitat loss and poaching.

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