A herd pulls together when a baby elephant collapses in the middle of a road

Family and social bonds are very human, but not exclusively human. Numerous animal species also rely on each other and while they’re at it, form complex little societies. Elephants are one outstanding example.

Elephants form tight-knit family groups headed by a matriarch (typically the eldest female). These are actually extended families, usually with about 10 members. Male elephants, incidentally, leave their family group when they grow up, either living on their own or joining a small herd of other males. A number of Matriarch-led family groups will come together in a couple different ways. In one, known as “fission-fusion,” different groups get together and socialize, with new families constantly joining while others leave. The other large-scale social group is the “clan,” where around 9 families unite for a specific purpose like defending a grazing area during a time of scarcity.

Aside from being highly social, elephants are extremely intelligent and highly empathetic. Elephants look out for each other and engage in cooperative behavior. For instance, a group of elephants will form a kind of convoy, with the baby elephants surrounded by their elders and kept safe. Astonishingly, elephants actually experience grief when a member of their group is dead or dying.

The video posted below will show you just one example of elephants helping each other. This particular herd was on the move when an exhausted calf collapsed in the middle of a road. That obviously wasn’t a good place to take a nap and the adult elephants knew it. Several of them gathered around protectively and gave her gentle nudges. It took some persistence, but eventually the calf was back on her feet and escorted to a safe spot off the road.

Impressed by the way these gentle giants look out for each other? Let us know in the comments at Facebook. Don’t forget to like and share: the more people know how amazing elephants are, the better!