Chiang Rai, Thailand
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARISA MARCHITELLI
Wisdom and beauty
The new Elephant Researcher Program uses scientific games to study intellectual development theories, with the goal of improving our ability to communicate with elephants (Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle; fourseasons.com/golden triangle; +66 53 910 200).
Don't you forget about me
Their trunks are nimble, their minds just as dexterous. According to research by Think Elephants International, pachyderms cooperate, understand rewards, problem-solve and, yes, have stellar memories.
That smile of self recognition
Elephants know their own reflections—a trait they share only with great apes, dolphins, orcas, one bird species and, of course, humans. this means that, besides being delighted by her own good looks, Tang Mo here sees herself as a separate being and so can form deeper social bonds.
Since logging was banned in thailand, many elephant trainers have followed their gentle giants to sanctuaries like the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. Mahouts are more than pachyderm caregivers; they often bond for life—which, in the case of elephants, is about 70 years.