Elephants Remember Shock of Electric Fences

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Elephants in South Africa showed that they "never forget" by learning to step over barbed and electric fences. Their actions suggest a brain trigger that identifies dangerous fences obstacles to avoid.

Elephant Spotted Doing Strategic Act


By avoiding the fences, African elephants prove their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. Rather than trample the barriers, they maneuver themselves over the wires one leg at a time.


Photographs from Indri Ultimate Wildlife Tours in Cape Town, South Africa, show an elephant named Nellie working past a barbed-wire fence. Rather than trampling over the fence, Nellie took her time to step over it carefully. She left herself and the fence undamaged.

Another young elephant avoiding an electric fence in Mpumalanga near Kruger National Park. It stepped over the fence to grab a branch from a marula fruit tree.

"It was quite strange to see the elephant do this, but it is marula fruit season and elephants love them," said journalist Magdel van den Berg. "He remembered the fence for sure; he is a regular visitor to the area. It was interesting to see an animal think and plan its way around the obstacles."

After enjoying his treat, the elephant climbed back over the fence and continued on its way.

MORE ON PAWNATION: Weird Animal Laws

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What's Shakin T

Known for quite some time that most animal mammals are smarter than most human mammals. More of a conscience too...

March 10 2014 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to What's Shakin T's comment
kweber747

You don't know what you're talking about, and your statement is totally made up and without proof or evidence. Also, all mammals are animals, all humans are mammals, and humans are both animals and mammals, so your statement is also nonsensical.

March 10 2014 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fritofred53

This was Bush's fault

March 09 2014 at 10:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
musomesa

It is very old and false science to relate intelligence to the size of the brain. it is not the size of the brain that matters but how it is organized. Otherwise, how would one account for the smarts of crows, mynar birds and parrots? Our brains are about the same size as that of a cow. OK some of us are bovine!

March 09 2014 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tc

Such conceit has rever reached my "ears", If elphants were born with hands we'd still be running naked in jungle.

March 09 2014 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AGGIEBABA

Sounds like classical conditioning more than intelligence.

March 09 2014 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jEnNifeR dAwN x

This article shockingly fails to mention that these elephants are in HIGH DANGER of extinction. One intelligent, loving, family-driven species is killed EVERY 15 minutes for their tusks. Never buy ivory. Visit www.elephantsdc.org & www.iworry.org & www.bloodyivory.org to learn more on the global poaching crisis pushing the African elephant to EXTINCTION today. #urgent

March 09 2014 at 7:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
rossy99

No electricity here ---- nuthin but (BOB-WAR) Wires are secured ditectly to the posts .
No insulators-- therefor would be grounded --- Thats the first thing I noticed.

March 09 2014 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rossy99

No electricity here--- where are the insolators ?? Nothing but Barbed (BOB-WAR) WIRE
The wires shown are directly to the posts --- therefore grounded !!

March 09 2014 at 6:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bienhoa72alum

Elephants, Intelligent? You doubt that? The following is a true, first hand report.

I worked at the San Diego Wild Animal Park (Now Safari Park) one summer. I often stood near the Elephant Enclosure. They were doing some "Improvements" on the enclosure that summer. They had sunk a series of about 8" diameter steel poles into the ground, and then strung three sets of heavy cables though them to block one end on the Elephant enclosure. The cables they were held taught with large eye bolts and nuts. There was a narrow gap between the last pole and the building in which one of the Elephants, Chico, was kept at night. With these new security features in place, and in order to do some updates in the Building, Chico, was to be allowed to remain outside for a night or two. After the first night they found the end pole, and the next pole in the line both bent at severe angles away from the building. The also found that the nut on the end of the top Eye bolt was missing and the cable was lying slack on the ground. When the keepers arrived, Chico was using his (her?) trunk to slowly unscrew the nut on the eye-bolt second from the top in an attempt to free that cable. Had this been completed, Chico would have been able to step over the lowest cable and walk freely throughout the park! (The keepers were able to coax Chico into a different enclose before the escape attemt was completed.) No one had taught Chico to bend the poles or unscrew the nuts. Perhaps he'd seen the workers putting the nut on and realized what to do. Either way it was pretty clever for a "dumb" animal.

(They were able to straightened the poles and then filled them with concrete to make them sturdier. The cables were extended into the building, closing the gap that Chico has used to his advantage.)

March 09 2014 at 6:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Barbara

I have LOVED Elephants from the first I ever saw one! Thjat and the Cats are my favorite animal!

March 09 2014 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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