That’s Why Elephants Stand Still Until They Die

Foreign, the male Indian elephant, also known as the world’s loneliest elephant.

After his partner died, loneliness slowly began to take its grave toll on Cavan.

He lost his will to live in.

The isolated conditions in which the elephant was kept only made things worse.

But why did this happen in the first place?

Well, there’s a simple story that helps explain that.

Three decades ago, a prisoner who shall remain nameless ended up in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California.

He had no documented mental psychiatric problems when he was locked in an 80 square foot room with nothing but a toilet, a sink in a bed.

The Prisoner spent more than 22 hours a day for months in a white concrete cell lit by the glow of fluorescent light.

In a few weeks the prison psychiatrist noticed that the prisoner couldn’t sleep.

He was haunted by the urge to do something bad to himself.

During one of the hallucinatory episodes, The Prisoner kicked the cell door several times and said he was being visited by entities.

I can see them through the walls.

Black evil, he said.

I fear I’m going to die.

Such behavior is typical for the human psyche.

People who spend more than 10 days in solitary confinement often suffer from Sleep Disorders, panic attacks, hallucinations and other cognitive, emotional and social impacts.

But what about elephants?

Like humans, they are social animals, so when they stay in one place without any other elephants around, they may experience similar problems due to the lack of brain stimulation.

The problem is that studying the consequences of elephants isolation is not the easiest task, at least because elephants are huge and you can’t put them in an Mri machine.

Even rhinos can barely fit in there, though they’re more compact.


One can observe visual changes in elephants, for example, and their behavior.

An illustrative example of the effects of loneliness is Asha, an elephant who lived alone at Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia for 30 over 40 years.

Ash’s living quarters consisted of a barn and three outdoor yards, with virtually no vegetation or water sources.

Such a Barren environment not only looks depressing, it also does nothing at all to stimulate activity and well-being of any animal, let alone the elephant, which is used to roaming hundreds of miles in its natural habitat.

After examining the elephant’s Behavior, the vet noted that Asha was swaying back and forth, a sign of joint disease common among captive elephants.

Asha also looked unstimulated and detached.

These signs indicated that she was extremely lonely due to isolation.

Loneliness and boredom led to chronic stress, which in turn, can cause changes in the brain that lead to stereotypical Behavior, repetitive, seemingly pointless acts.

Asha, for example, was swaying back and forth.

This sort of thing is observed in Social animals in captivity, but is extremely rare in those living in the wild.

Leaving elephants aside, monkeys could serve as another example.

They pull their own hair out because of intense boredom caused by a lack of brain stimulation and interaction with other monkeys or humans.

Also, the isolation-induced stress activates the body’s fight or flight response and if it stimulated continuously, it can lead to nerve cell damage in the hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial for learning and memory.

Overall, highly evolved mammals forced into isolation are not that different from humans in similar conditions.

Examples of the adverse effects of isolation on elephants can be found all over the world.

Remember the elephant named Kavan from the beginning of the video.

He was once a star attraction at the Islamabad zoo in Pakistan.

That Zoo, to put it bluntly, provided the animals with terrible living conditions.

The chained up elephant spent 35 years in a small, dry enclosure.

In addition, as I already mentioned, his only partner died, and it was not from natural causes but due to neglect.

The chains gave her gangrene.

At one point.

Cavan even killed two zookeepers and rocked compulsively backwards and forwards all day long.

He didn’t want to walk, or maybe he couldn’t.

All in all, the situation was simply dire until the elephant was discovered by Samar Khan, an American vet.

He also started a social media campaign to raise awareness of Kavan’s plight.

That’s a great idea, but you have to admit, not many people would listen to some unknown vet.

Luckily for the elephant, singer Cher became interested in his story and immediately started to act.

A celebrity, this influential, immediately made the world’s loneliest elephant a Hot Topic.

She also contacted local organizations and pushed for Kavan to be moved to a reserve more suitable for his needs.

Also, they filmed an award-winning documentary about this story.

However, elephants sometimes refuse to move, not only due to living in bad conditions or brain damage.

That’s because elephants are actually much more complex than we think.

They’re capable of empathy and even grief.

But the story of the elephant called Demini has elevated our understanding of these abilities.

Damini was confiscated from her previous owners and moved to another Zoo where she lived alone for about five months.

She then got a neighbor, a pregnant elephant named Champakali, who was on some sort of maternity leave.

The elephants quickly became close friends and Inseparable companions, which is usually the case when the older elephant takes care of the younger one during pregnancy.

Sadly, six months later, Champakali died, giving birth to a stillborn calf.

This event had a huge impact on Damini.

She stopped moving at all, barely touching food and water.

The elephant eventually fell and just lay still staring blankly at the staff around her for 24 days.

She refused to move, lost weight rapidly and eventually died.

One might say grief killed her.

In a way, Damini’s story is unique.

Despite being emotional, elephants don’t usually die because of heartbreak or longing for their friend or relative.

Of course, they can grieve because they form very strong bonds.

Yes, even in the wild, elephants sometimes refuse to move because they’re too sad, though not sad enough to starve to death.

In 2013, cameraman Mark Diebel followed an elephant family in Kenya during a time of drought and famine.

He also got to watch the mother, who stood over her dead calf for an hour trying to lift its body.

Was a heartbreaking scene.

It was obvious that she was grieving, because such Behavior couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anything else.

However, a few hours later, hunger and thirst forced the mother to abandon the baby’s body and move on, because that’s how things work in the wild.

You do whatever it takes to survive in more favorable conditions, with more food and water.

Elephants May grieve longer after losing their calves.

Experts have documented cases when elephants stayed near the bodies of their deceased family members for three days and nights before finally leaving.

In one case, an elephant named Tony gave birth to a stillborn baby and then guarded it against the Lions for four days straight before abandoning it.

Another story like that was captured on video in 2017..

The Rangers of a national park found an elephant with a broken leg and had to put it down.

This is sad but necessary.

A quick and Humane death is a better option, because it’d be impossible for an elephant to live with an injury like that.

But what happened next could bring anyone to tears.

The elephants gathered around their dead friend and refused to leave.

For a long time they stood watching over the body, and one elephant even stroked it with his trunk.

Actually, any scientist knows how dangerous it is to project human feelings onto an animal.

It complicates the research and leads to wrong conclusions.

However, it would be presumptuous of us to assume that we’re the only species capable of grieving.

Elephants aren’t living proof of that.

Their feelings are particularly well illustrated by their family ties, which are extremely strong among elephants.

Here’s an actual and damn sad story to prove it.

Researchers once played an audio recording of a dead elephant to his family in the wild.

As soon as the sound came out of the speaker, the elephants practically went crazy.

They trumpeted and looked around anxiously.

After a while the elephants seemed to calm down, but the dead elephant’s daughter desperately called out for him even days later.

It was at this point that researchers realized they’d gone too far and should never do anything like that again.

The story of big tuskless, the elephant matriarch, who died of natural causes, also proves that elephants have strong family ties.

This elephant was the leader of Her Herd and after her death, the researcher brought her jaw to the camp to determine the age of the animal at the time of her death.

When the elephant family came to the camp a few weeks later, they were able to recognize her jaw among several dozen other elephant Jaws lying on the ground.

As soon as they spotted the matriarch’s jaw, all the members of The Herd stopped to touch it with their trunks and pay their respects to their beloved leader, after which they continued their Journey.

However, the elephant’s seven-year-old son, named budge, stayed for a while to stroke his mother’s jaw with his trunk.

What is this, if not a display of grief and Devotion to a member of his family?

I wonder how elephants even knew it was the right Jaw.

Elephants also have something of a funeral right.

First, they collect branches and leaves from nearby trees and use them to cover the body of their dead friend.

In some cases, they also use dirt to cover the wounds that have been inflicted on the dead animal.

Yep, elephants are the ones who do that, not primates that look so much like humans, though actually, elephants do whatever it takes to save their loved ones while they still can.

A heart-rending story was filmed in 2015 by residents of the Indian Chakra District.

A baby elephant fell into a well and its mother spent 11 hours desperately trying to pull it out, but all her attempts didn’t work because of the large amount of moisture and soil.

The elephant used her trunk to dig, but all it did was push more mud into the well, almost smothering the baby elephant at one point.

Eventually, people noticed what was going on and decided to help the animal in distress.

They deterred the elephant mom by using several loaded trucks.

This gave them enough time to clear some of the sand around the well that was preventing the elephant from digging her baby out.

When the sand was removed, the people allowed the elephant mom to return and she finally pulled the calf out.

Overall, this is a story with a happy ending.

Unfortunately, baby elephants get trapped in Wells all too often.

Wells are a necessary source of water for many people.

Unfortunately, Wells are big enough for baby elephants to fall in them.

They need to drink too, and they end up falling into the wells.

There was a story of a mother elephant trying so desperately to get her calf out of a roadside drainage hole that she even fainted and then also fell into that very hole.

All in all, the rescue operation took more than three hours in the pouring rain.

After successfully freeing the baby elephant from the well, people had to provide emergency medical care to the exhausted mother too, giving her CPR.

Fortunately, as soon as the calf ran up to its mom, she immediately regained consciousness.

It’s worth saying that elephants are actually excellent diggers, and in the wild they regularly use their tusks, feet and Trunks to dig holes to gain access to water from rainfall or to groundwater.

Later, these hulls become water sources not only for the elephants, but also for other animals living nearby.

The important thing is not to fall into them later.

The thing is, falling can also cause consequences such as serious injuries.

For example, in the huge cow Ang Roo Nai wildlife sanctuary in Thailand, Rescuers managed to pull an elephant out of a mud hole where he was stuck.

The five-ton animal was unable to get up and move because of an injury which rendered him partly laying.

Vets treated the elephant in the wild for months, but with no success.

Blood tests showed the animal had muscle problems because of the injury.

He was laying down for a long time, was regularly fed to keep him from becoming too exhausted and was given stimulants to replenish some energy.

Anyway, you already realize that an elephant with a serious injury is physically incapable of walking normally, let alone moving from place to place.

Injuries are a common problem for these large mammals.

While superficial skin injuries may be the result of social fights or accidental Falls, deeper wounds that turn into abscesses are a different matter entirely.

Usually they’re caused by bullet wounds or Tusk wounds, and this is where animals May need medical attention.

The skin of elephants is too tough, so the abscess will not rupture by itself.

It must be opened surgically.

Pus has to be removed and the animal must be given antibiotics.

Don’t forget, there are also older elephants.

They often have trouble moving because of arthritis, a joint disorder.

Arthritis hurts animals when they walk too much or too fast.

As a result, older elephants often end up staying still for a long time, which is also harmful, if only because it causes other diseases and, in the worst case scenario, because of predators.

They certainly wouldn’t miss this opportunity.

See you later.

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