Elephants Ace Intelligence Test

Elephants recently tested for their intelligence and ability to work with others, astounded scientists with their aptitude to learn and solve problems.

Two of them even outsmarted the scientists who developed the test.

A story from Discovery News reported that 12 male and female elephants from the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Thailand participated in the study that was published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It placed elephants on the same intelligence level as chimpanzees and dolphins.

The Study

Researchers placed tasty corn on a sliding table with ropes tied to it. A volleyball net blocked the elephants from walking to the table and helping themselves to the corn. The only way for the animals to get the treat was by pulling on the ropes and moving the table closer to them.

When the elephants were tested individually, each one successfully learned how to maneuver the ropes.

Next the scientists rearranged the sliding tables so that it took two elephants working as a team to bring the food to them. Again the elephants quickly learned the task with some waiting up to 45 seconds for their partner to arrive to help out.

According to Discovery News, “If the researchers did not release this second elephant, the first one basically looked around as if to say: ‘You’ve got to be kidding. It takes two to do this.’”

But two elephants named Neua  Un and JoJo figured out ways to outsmart the scientists.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see the youngest elephant, Neua Un, use her foot to hold the rope so that her partner had to do all the work,” said Joshua Plotnik, Cambridge University researcher.

“I hadn’t thought about this beforehand, and Neua Un seemed to figure it out by chance, but it speaks volumes to the flexibility of elephant behavior that she was able to figure this out and stick to it.”

JoJo was so intelligent that he didn’t even bother to walk to the volleyball testing area, unless his partner was released with him.

Plotnik said, “In the wild, there are fascinating anecdotes of elephants working together to lift or help fallen members, and forming clusters to protect younger elephants.”

“We tend to think that elephants and humans are greatly different,” said Satoshi Hirata of Japan’s Great Ape Research Institute. “But the study results show that we share some social mind skills with elephants.”


Click Here for Video of the Study.


Photo from: Creative Commons - Sarahemcc


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Kathy S.
Kathy Sabout a year ago

doesn't surprise me, maybe we can stop putting them in zoos & circus's

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lynn J.
Lynn Jenks5 years ago

Ok, if people understand how intelligent animals are they MAY stop treating them as objects to be used. But women are intelligent, and men in some cultures still see us as inferior so what hope for animals? We ought to treasure them for what they are, not make them out to be furry four legged versions of us!

Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

I used to spend up to three days a week, at our local zoo just watching the elephants and the tests you did were way to easy for them! They are an intelligent set of animals who need to free in their own protected environment! Zoo's aren't even a good place for them to live in, they need to be free with their own families!

Miriam W.
miriam w5 years ago

I've seen human beings that wouldn't pass these tests. Yet we treat these animal horribly.

ELENA NOVO6 years ago

The elephant is a friend to man More than the dog, it’s constant. And now indeed our turn has come to be the Friend of the elephant..
what else would they be but intelligent....&so loving as well.....

caterina caligiuri

*** sensible and intelligent creatures...not surprising tks

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

animals r smarter than we give them credit for...we should respect them and protect them and their environments more.