Thursday, 15 January 2015

Elephant No. 104: Elephants Sitting on Cars

Amarula the elephant sits on a car, Pilansberg Game Reserve, South Africa, 2011.
Photo: Great Stock/Barcroft Media
Source: Metro UK

A couple of days ago, my friend Ken Wilson sent me a video of an elephant sitting on a car in Thailand, basically squashing it. I commented that it would make an interesting addition to this blog's Elephant Lore of the Day, and he said that there are actually many similar videos on YouTube.

Deciding that it was clearly something elephants like to do, I figured it deserved an entire blog post.

Here is the original video Ken sent.

In it, an eight-year-old male elephant begins by sniffing around a car. Then he steps on the car, sits on it, and steps on it again (this time crushing the windshield) before he moves away.

I knew already that elephants are not huge fans of cars, and that they like to chase them, roll them over, and generally push them around. Sitting on cars, however, was something new to me.

This video was taken in Africa, from the inside of the car, as a bull elephant perches on the front hood.

And sometimes elephants just seem to think the hood of a car is a good place to perch.

No one is quite sure why elephants sit on cars. Some speculate that it might be a sign of aggression during mating season. Others think that elephants may simply be exploring a strange oversized object in their territory. Either way, inside a car with an elephant sitting on the hood is not a place I ever want to be.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Some elephants quite like cars. This story of a helpful elephant who fancied himself a mechanic is adapted from my original Elephant a Day blog.

In April 2010, a jeep broke down in West Midland Safari Park in Worcestershire, England. Before staffer Lawrence Bates could call for assistance, however, an elephant named Five moved in. The eighteen-year-old elephant stepped forward, got behind the jeep, and pushed it out of his enclosure.

He also decided it could do with a wash. After spraying the jeep with water from his trunk, Five picked up a sponge and dabbed at the windows and hood.

Then something even more surprising happened. According to Bob Lawrence, Director of Wildlife, "The jeep broke down again and, to our astonishment, Five came over and decided to give us a hand. He lifted the bonnet up, got the dipstick, and gave it to Lawrence. When we still couldn't get it to start, he went round the back and gave us a push. I've never seen anything like this in my life—it was absolutely incredible."

Five the elephant helps push an ailing jeep out of his enclosure.

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