What's a girl to do when she discovers a large white cross on her forehead? In the case of Happy, an Asian elephant at the Bronx Zoo in New York, she raises her trunk and touches the cross on her mirror-image thereby passing a standard test known as the ‘mark test’. Happy’s response was on a par with those made when human children or great apes are presented with the test. Happy, with her companions Patty and Maxine, were shown a very large mirror, and it was observed that after initial exploratory behaviour sniffing the mirror and looking behind it, the elephants took an increasing interest in their reflections. This led to each peering into its own mouth. There was no evidence of an elephant mistaking their reflection for that of another. This self-recognizing trait is thought to relate to empathetic tendencies and the ability to distinguish oneself from others. The study was carried out by scientists from the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, Emory University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.

Posted By johannes to <http://www.monochrom.at/english/2007/03/elephants-pause-for-reflection.htm>monochrom at 3/06/2007 12:43:00 PM
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