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Friday, February 26, 2021

Elephants at Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta Park use twigs to scratch themselves like humans, videos go viral

Two elephants -- Sundar and Maneka -- residents of Bannerghatta Biological Park recently exhibited cognitive abilities and park officials couldn't be more thrilled.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 25, 2020 7:45:48 pm
Sundar and Maneka were spotted by park staff using the twigs like humans often do. (Source: Bannerghatta Biological Park/ Facebook)

Recently, zoo officials in Bengaluru were in for a surprise when they saw elephants imitating human actions, much like ape and monkeys. After spotting two elephants using twigs to scratch their body, the officials excitedly announced it to the world, to raise awareness.

“Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) exhibit cognitive abilities by using tools at Bannerghatta Biological Park!!” the zoo wrote on their official Facebook page and posted a video of the rescued temple elephants using a small piece of branch to satisfy an itch.

Zoo keepers saw one of their residents– Sundar — among the 23 Asiatic elephants staying in park — using a piece of twig to scratch specific areas in his ear and mouth, which was not possible otherwise with his trunk or by just rubbing himself against a tree. The 20-year-old male elephant that has been in BBP since 2014 was rescued from a temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

Seeing the “high level of cognition” in the elephant got everyone excited as it was not just Sundar alone. His fellow park mate Menaka, too, was seen scratching under her neck and belly area with a twig!

“Tool use in elephants is not unique but the level of complexity varies with individuals” the post added.

“A study by Hart, et al. in 2001 shows how elephants use and modify branches to repel flies in Nagarhole National Park indicating that the cerebral cortex in the brain and body ratio is greater than that of any primate species. Hence, elephants are equivalent to great apes, such as chimpanzees and orangutans in terms of *cognitive ability for tool use* and manufacture,” it further wrote.

The videos garnered a lot of attention online and started a conversation about evolution and how staying closer to humans affect the wild animals.

The park officials aadded that other species such as crows and other birds, dolphins, monkeys and octopus also have been known to use tools to solve complex situations.

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