Elephants are sensitive and very social, but there is no evidence they cry
An elephant that supposedly cried tears when it was being rescued from an abusive home where it had been captive for 50 years created much excitment on social media. The experience of being cut loose from the vicious-looking spikes and heavy chains that we see in the short video clip was one of intense emotion for Raju, the elephant in the video. This is not the first time that a story of a weeping elephant has done the rounds on the internet. Animals that seem to be behaving in human-like ways certainly generate great interest.
Humans usually cry for emotional reasons: pain, fear, sadness, or loneliness. So perhaps it is natural to interpret animal tears as having an emotional reason, too. However, scientists studying the underlying cognitive processes of animal behaviour have found no evidence to suggest that elephants, or any other species for that matter, have an emotional reason for producing tears.
There is no doubt at all that animals experience pain and suffering, and many show visible signs of distress in their behaviour. Another elephant – this one a new-born elephant calf called Zhuangzhuang certainly would have felt pain from its injuries, and intense distress at being attacked and separated from its mother. But there is no evidence for a connection between any emotions it may have been feeling and its streaming eyes. (via Elephants are sensitive and very social, but there is no evidence they cry)
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