Animal Behavior… Introducing Elephants

Cheryl, our resident animal behavioral scientist, was back. This time we “became” elephants and tried to solve problems that have been designed to see how clever elephants are!  We used data to decipher the rule to a game… and found out that we did it well for humans.  But elephants can actually solve the problem even faster!  We even used our arm-trunk like the huge animal would use its trunk!  All of us reviewed the information we read about elephants. We compared Asian and African elephants.  Asian elephant ears look like “India!” and African elephant ears reminded us of the shape of the African continent.  We learned that the females live in groups to support each other with births and child-rearing!  We learned that elephants “trumpet” when a baby is born and they mourn the death of a friend or family member. They seem very “human-like.”  Or perhaps we are “elephant-like!”  We made elephants out of torn, painted paper.  Some of us took notes and made mock-up pages for the animal study.  When we went to the zoo, we saw the elephants’ habitat and thought of ways to help the elephants lead more active lives, mentally and physically.



Upgrading the Elephant Environments

The elephant study continued in earnest, arriving at a pause with plans for redesigning the elephant habitat at the zoo to keep the animals more fit, happier, and mentally active. Plans were adjudicated by animal behaviorist Cheryl and engineer Dan, and the children practiced their presentations before climbing aboard MAX to meet the elephant team at the Oregon Zoo. The keepers were very engaged in the children’s ideas, asking questions and wondering alongside the young engineers about the efficacy and realization of their ideas. We imagine that some of those ideas will wind up in the new elephant exhibit…!!! Bravo!