Elephants As Tool Makers?

Elephants are smart animals and have remarkable memories. They can learn tricks and routines quickly and remember them well. That is why they are used in circuses and as beasts of burden all over the world. Now there is evidence that indicates that elephants have other abilities as well.

Meet Kandula, a 7 year-old male Asian elephant. He was the subject of a study at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. A cluster of fruit attached to a branch was suspended from a wire just out of Kandula's reach.

Several objects that could be used to assist him in snagging the fruit were placed in the enclosure. Researchers hoped Kandula would find a stick to help pull the fruit down so he could reach it. He didn't and researchers realized their mistake. Although elephants use sticks as back scratchers, using them to locate and move the fruit is not natural for them.

Elephants use the sense of smell and touch in their trunks to find food. Holding a stick while trying to find the fruit would block these senses, making the stick impractical.

Kandula was taken out for seven 20 minute sessions on seven different days. He did not even attempt to pick up a stick or any other object to help him reach the fruit.

Suddenly researchers saw a look come over Kandula's face. He walked straight to a wooden cube, rolled it underneath the fruit, stood on it and retrieved his food.

It appears that Kandula studied the problem for several sessions. When he arrived at a solution there was no hesitation. He just did it.

Two older elephants were given the same situation. Neither performed as well as Kandula. Maybe they didn't feel as motivated or perhaps they aren't as smart. Who knows?

The National Zoo admits that Kandula is exceptionally smart. But that does not explain the fact that he seemed to reason out the problem and make a tool to solve it. Up until now only humans, chimpanzees, and crows were known to make tools.

If you want to read more about this amazing feat, there is a link below.


Elephant Makes A Tool


  1. That was amazing to watch
    Thank you for sharing


  2. Hi, Umihoney. I have been animal-watching for a lot of years now. I see that they are getting smarter. This is a good example of that. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. great article I'm so glad people are finally starting to notice.

  4. Thank you for stopping by. I agree. It's about time we stop thinking of them as dumb animals.

  5. Elephants have been used throughout history to build pyramids as well. I know the Aztecs and Mayans used them to carry the stone up the ramp.


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