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These Adorable Elephants Are Nature's Friendliest Giants

 Baby animals are so cute and fun to look at! But there is one 'baby' that weighs more than most adult humans, has almost no fur to speak of and loves the mud. And, despite these facts, the baby elephant is definitely one of the cutest of all baby animals! So this post is all about these 'little' guys with great photos and some fascinating information about the biggest land mammal.
 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
An elephant calf is around 250 lb (115 kg) in weight when born. Females mature at about 11 years and stay in the group, while the males, who mature between 12 and 15, are usually expelled from the maternal herd. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Elephants are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth. Their brains weigh 5kg, much more than the brain of any other land animal. Their brains have more complex folds than all animals except whales, which is thought to be a major factor in their intellect.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
They commonly show grief, humor, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool-use, playfulness, and excellent learning abilities.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
One elephant in Korea surprised its zoo keepers by independently learning to mimic the commands they gave it by verbalizing on the end of its trunk, successfully learning 8 words and their context. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
The elephant trunk, a specialized nose, is analogous to an octopus tentacle in terms of dexterity. It allows them a high degree of manipulation of objects, and elephants are adept tool-users.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Elephants have been taught to paint with their adroit trunks and produce some fascinating artwork.
 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
In captivity, elephants easily learn how to open simple locks and many master more complex ones, something impossible for most other animals due to a lack of dexterity and intellect.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Elephants in zoos have worked together to take advantage of this, by having many act as lookouts as another undoes the lock. Or, in one instance, an elephant feigned injury as a distraction, while another elephant helped the others escape.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Once all the elephants were out, the decoy elephant climbed to its feet and ran for the door, surprising its tenders who had been unaware of the ruse. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Female elephants live in a herd of about 10 individuals led by the most experienced matriarch, whereas the males are normally solitary and move from herd to herd.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
The females in each herd help each other find food and care for calves.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Adults do not lie down to sleep because of the excellent support their very straight legs give them. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Elephants communicate within their herds or between herds many kilometers away mostly using sounds too low for human ears to perceive and by stamping their feet. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Within their herds, elephants are believed to have the same or similar levels of cooperation as chimpanzees.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
A young elephant must learn how to draw water up into its trunk and then pour it into its mouth. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Of all the elephant's specialized features, the muscular trunk is the most remarkable. It serves as a nose, a hand, an extra foot, a signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and a variety of other functions. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Not only does the long trunk permit the elephant to reach as high as 23 feet, but it can also perform movements as delicate as picking berries or caressing a companion.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
It is capable, too, of powerful twisting and coiling movements used for tearing down trees or fighting. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
An elephant herd is considered one of the most closely-knit societies of any animal, and a female will only leave it if she dies or is captured by humans.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
Males will leave the herd when they become adolescents, around the age of 12, and live in temporary ‘bachelor herds’ until they are mature and live alone.  
elephants, beautiful, adorable
An elephant female is fertile for only a few days each year. During this time, males will try to court her by using rituals involving various affectionate gestures and nuzzles.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
If she accepts one, she will respond with similar gestures and after 20 minutes or so of a courting ritual they will mate. 
elephants, beautiful, adorable
If she conceives, she will be pregnant for 22 months, longer than any other land animal.
elephants, beautiful, adorable
'Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.'
John Donne 
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