12 amazing facts about elephants


In honor of World Elephant Day on August 12, we present you with 12 little-known facts about one of our favorite creatures … in GIFs, of course

1. Elephants know every member of their herd and are able to recognize up to 30 companions by sight or smell. 



2. They can remember and distinguish particular cues that signal danger and can recall locations long after their last visit.


3. An elephant’s memory is not limited to its herd, nor is it limited to its species. In one instance, two circus elephants that performed together rejoiced when crossing paths 23 years later. Elephants have also recognized humans that they once bonded with after decades apart.


 4. The elephant boasts the largest brain of any land mammal as well as an impressive encephalization quotient (the size of the animal’s brain relative to its body size). The elephant’s EQ is nearly as high as a chimpanzee’s.


5. The elephant brain is remarkably similar to the human brain, with as many neurons and synapses, as well as a highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex.


6. Elephants are one of the few non-human animals to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.


7. The elephant’s large cerebral cortex allows them to be great problem solvers, which elephants display in many creative ways.


8. Don’t try to outsmart an elephant! They have an understanding of basic arithmetic and can even keep track of relative quantities.


9. Elephants communicate using everything from body signals to infrared rumbles that can be heard from kilometers away. Their understanding of syntax suggests that they have their own language and grammar.


10. Elephants can recognize 12 distinct tones of music and recreate melodies.


11. Elephants are the only non-human animals to mourn their dead, performing burial rituals and returning to visit graves. 


12. Elephants are one of the few species who can recognize themselves in the mirror.


Given what we now know about elephants, and what they continue to teach us about animal intelligence, it is more important than ever to make sure that these magnificent creatures do not vanish.

Watch the full lesson ‘Why elephants never forget – Alex Gendler’ »



  1. Thank you for this informative lesson. I thought I knew something but this lesson showed me facts about elephants that were amazing. I’ve often thought when elephants go rouge it’s a reasonable outrage on how they are treated.
    Thank you so very much for enlarging my knowledge base of an animal I’ve always loved. I’ve had horses all of my life! I think they own some of the traits that elephants have. I have watched them grieve, recognize humans and horses that have been separated for a long time.
    I’ve seen my horse hate men but tried to kill a female vet. The Vet was a mystery until I understood her true nature. Sorry for the rambling but please know I have learned so much about the beautiful elephants. Thank you so very much
    MaryHudson Morrow (Marshall

  2. Elephantlover

    Elephants are truly amazing, as are any other living organisms. They all have emotional intelligence, and just because elephants display more emotional similarities with humans doesn’t mean that we humans should not consider other animals to be the same. Elephants are definitely advanced beings with a lot of great talents to be valued, and so are other animals.

  3. Joanne


  4. Number 9 should say “infrasonic” rumbles, not infrared.
    Fun list otherwise!

  5. dglenn

    #11 “Elephants are the only non-human animals to mourn their dead…”
    untrue, crows, apes and likely other animals mourn their dead.

  6. William White

    Why just 12 tones? Western music uses 12 semi-tones; Octave to octave, but other cultures use more (some less), which leads me to believe it was a western researcher who came up with this factoid. Try again and I think they’d recognize more including our “blue” notes, the flatted 3rd and 5th tones of a (western) diatonic scales.

  7. Georgia1937

    Great explanation of how elephant-wise/elephant-smart/and wonderful they are. We cannot compare them to humans but they are just as accomplished as we are in an ‘elephant way’.
    I am reading a really good book: ‘BEYOND WORDS – what animals think and feel’ and the author is: Carl Safina.

  8. sophia

    Wonderful information for those who do not know… but have you ANY idea how incredibly annoying and irritating those animated gifs are? Really, they should stop after the first run through. I will leave a page if they are annoying me, which they do and never get to read the information.

    I strongly suspect not many want them repeating themselves endlessly either.

  9. latifa

    sincerely i don’t know this informations about elephants . The human must protect and save this animal .Thank You for this
    amazing facts about elephants.

  10. John S

    This also applies to many other animals some of which will surprise you eg its recently been discovered that Alligators and Crocs like to play One will throw a stick and those around will chase after it AND in Peru a chap rescued and young injured Croc which had been shot by a farmer. He took it home treated and fed it until it was well then he and his brothers returned it to the wild only to find it had returned and was lying on their porch. This was attempted a number of times but the result was always the same it wouldn’t go. Although able to come and go as it wished it stayed with him for many years until it had grown into a huge adult male. There’s a fantastic youtube video showing them together. Either the Croc or the chap are named Chico.
    My point is that we still have a lot to learn about the creatures we share this planet with and they may have things that they can teach us

  11. Tanya

    Amazing! You live and you learn. Another proof the world we live in is a wonderful place. Unfortunately Man has completely destroyed so many things without ever having learnt how miraculous they were.

  12. chicken405

    this was great i was doing a school project on elephants and this worked great!! thank you for all the great facts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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