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Surprise: Elephants Comfort Upset Friends

The short list of animals that console stressed-out friends just got longer … and heavier. Asian elephants, like great apes, dogs, certain corvids (the bird group that includes ravens), and us, have now been shown to recognize when a herd mate is upset and to offer gentle caresses and chirps of sympathy, according to a study published February...

Asian elephants (pictured) caress each other when stressed. (Photograph by ZSSD, Minden Pictures/Corbis)
Asian elephants (pictured) caress each other when stressed. (Photograph by ZSSD, Minden Pictures/Corbis)

The short list of animals that console stressed-out friends just got longer … and heavier.

Asian elephants, like great apes, dogs, certain corvids (the bird group that includes ravens), and us, have now been shown to recognize when a herd mate is upset and to offer gentle caresses and chirps of sympathy, according to a study published February 18 in the online journal PeerJ.

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Meet the Author

Jennifer S. Holland
Degrees in English and Conservation Biology Contributing Writer, National Geographic magazine Regular Contributor, NG News Author of bestselling books Unlikely Friendships (2011) and Unlikely Loves (2013)