Animal Info Elephants Oddities and Random Trivia

Some oddities and random trivia about elephants including facts about their glands, death, and training.



There is considerable truth to the old adage "An elephant never forgets." A properly trained elephant can understand up to 30 commands. Elephants are very intelligent, particularly the Asiatic species. One brainy female, Jamuna of the Auckland (New Zealand) Zoo, regularly unshackled herself at night from two padlocks. In the wild, elephants perform coordinated activities and will form a protective circle around a wounded or sick comrade.

Elephants have a mysterious temporal gland, between eye and ear, which periodically discharges a dark, oily substance, at which time they are in a state called musth. During musth, elephants are either subject to violent excitement (sometimes believed to be related to sexual frustration in bulls) or in deep, passive depression.

Sick or dying elephants often gravitate to water, so several corpses may often be found in one area of a jungle, but the ivory hunter's greedy myth of an elephants' graveyard is just that--a myth.

Old Bet, the second elephant ever seen in the U.S., became a star attraction for her owner, Hackaliah Bailey, in 1821. The first elephant to reach America (in 1796) apparently had no talent. Both pachyderm pioneers were Asiatic females.

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