A moving and revealing piece from Sullivan on the private lives of elephants.
“Do elephants have souls?” asks Caitrin Nicol, who describes how the beasts demonstrate an unusual appreciation for mortality:
For man, his sense of self, sense of history, and sense of the intemporal, however inchoate, are gestured at with his remembrance of those who have passed on. But here he is joined by the elephants, the only other known creatures that — whatever it may mean to them — purposively commemorate their dead, in a way [Coming of Age with Elephants author] Joyce Poole calls “eerie and deeply moving”: “It is their silence that is most unsettling. The only sound is the slow blowing of air out of their trunks as they investigate their dead companion. It’s as if even the birds have stopped singing.” Using their trunks and sensitive hind feet, the ones they use for waking up their babies, “they touch the body ever so gently, circling, hovering…
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