Elephants now join the ranks of humans and sea-otters for a rare classification – they remember birthdays. “There’s a lot to the saying that an elephant never forgets, so it’s only natural that these wonderful creatures show such an amazing ability,” says biologist Ramsay Helifax, “The evidence is pretty clear.”
Ramsay and his team monitored a herd of elephants in Africa for over five years, using satellite trackers to detail their movements. One year after the birth of every elephant in the herd, to the exact hour, each elephant raises their trunk in salute.
“The ‘birthday elephant’ walks in circles while the other elephants raise their trunks and trumpet what we can only imagine is the pachyderm equivalent of ‘happy birthday’,” Ramsay says, “The ceremony is over in five minutes, after which they get down to some serious eating.”
Every elephant in the herd received the treatment, Ramsay noted, except for one, “Billy, a young bull, was the only one who missed out.” When pressed for his opinion as to why, Ramsay jokes, “It’s probably because he’s the <expletive> of the herd.”
Ramsay hopes to repeat his studies in India and inspire other researchers to follow in his footsteps.