A new story going viral shows the similarity between many humans and elephants. When elephant calf Zhuangzhuang was born on August 30, 2013, his 17-year-old mother tried to stomp him to death. According to reports from Metro news, workers with the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve believed the attack an unfortunate accident and immediately separated the mother and calf. Workers treated Zhuangzhuang’s injuries then introduced the mother with her baby a second time. There was no accident. Immediately, the elephant began stomping her newborn calf. Workers knew there would be little to change the relationship between Zhuangzhuang and his mother.
While separated, the newborn calf reportedly sobbed in his blanket for five hours and was for all accounts unconsolable. After a while; however, the baby elephant responded to his caregiver, and the two struck up a suitable bond. The caregiver has since adopted the newborn calf and reports say they are getting along rather well together.
The idea of elephants crying actual tears has set many wondering if the “Dumbo” like tale is a work of fiction or if it actually happened. Besides photos that show newborn Zhuangzhuang with tears streaming down his face, and video footage that shows a happily recovered Zhuangzhuang, the University of California, Santa Barbara UCSB lab answered the question as to whether elephants cry by producing tears with a resounding yes.
“The answer to this question depends on how you define crying. If by crying you mean shedding or producing tears, then the answer is most certainly yes. Supposedly all or nearly all mammals that live on land produce tears to protect and lubricate their eyes, including you!
“This is important because mammals (and you) have eyes that move in your sockets and your eyes need to stay moist in order to move properly. Also, the tears help to clean dirt,dust, or any potentially harmful particles out of your eyes. This is the same for elephants as it is for you.” UCSB explained.
While UCSB replied that elephant’s do cry; they aren’t convinced that there is enough data to indicate whether they cry from emotional occurrences similar to human experiences.
UCSB stated, “If you define crying to mean shedding tears in response to emotions, then the answer to your question is a little more difficult. It is easy to show that elephants produce tears, but it is not possible to demonstrate that these tears result from emotions, so we cannot really say for sure that elephants cry from emotions. We think that humans cry in response to certain emotions, such as sadness, joy, frustration, or grief. But we do not know this is true for all humans just for ourselves.
“ For humans, we think that tears result from certain emotions because we have all experienced this effect directly in our own personal lives. However, we do not know what emotions elephants feel, if any, in the same manner that we do not necessarily know for sure what emotions other people feel. This is simply because we cannot measure emotions, we can only experience them. As a result, science cannot say whether elephants experience emotions, whether other people experience emotions, or what these emotions are like. This is because science requires that we be able to measure something in order to draw any conclusions about it. Personal experiences that cannot be measured by others do not count in science.”
What do you think? Watch the video of Zhuangzhuang, see his tears, and look at videos of other elephants grieving over the loss of a young elephant and share your views as to whether you think they are experiencing “human like” emotions.
You may see photos of Zhuangzhuang’s tears and videos of his current status here, as well as videos of elephants displaying what appears to be “human like” emotions here.
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