They're Like Us, Elephant Researchers Say

Thu, 2008-07-24 17:01 by Jan

They're Like Us,' Elephant Researchers Say; From Kenya to Tennessee, Elephants With PTSD Symptoms Are Finding Some Peace

July 24, 2008

Watch the story Friday on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET (July 25)

There is something startling about an elephant's eyes.

Their fiery amber color seems to blaze against the surrounding skin's burlap creases. An ancient face, lined with history, but it is the eyes that convey the generational knowledge of the species. They offer a glimpse into what researchers now say is a surprising level of consciousness. It is one of many reasons why the place elephants hold in our imaginations is both epic, and wondrous.

"There are things about elephants that seem so similar to us. Their family life, their emotional life, the fact that they grieve. They stand out from other animals," said Gay Bradshaw, director of a research institute called The Kerulos Center .

'They're Like Us'

Field scientists have studied the special bonds of elephant herds for decades. Family members mourn their dead, even gently caressing the jawbones of their ancestors during grieving rituals.

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