Tag Archives: elephants

The Cinch Review

On the Intelligence of Elephants

Intelligence of ElephantsI love elephants. I would like to have an elephant as a pet, and, as there is no specific rule against elephants in my apartment building, I figure this is quite feasible, once I locate one.

Recently there was a news story about a scientific study in Zimbabwe which demonstrated that elephants, unlike most animals, immediately understand the purpose of human pointing. That is, their attention will be directed to the place that a human trainer points to with his or her arm and hand, even in advance of any training for this purpose. This was considered a real discovery, and perhaps it is, but on consideration it doesn’t seem too surprising that an elephant would see a human arm kind of like it sees the outstretched trunks of fellow elephants, and would pay attention to it.

I’ve never met an elephant, but my own affection for them seems to date back to when I was about ten or eleven years old, when I read a book titled “White Gold,” a kind of history of the African ivory trade. I was reading anything that came within my arms reach at that age, and it was just another book I got out of the library. But it left an impression upon me. I especially remember the writing within this book on the intelligence of elephants. The writer went into some detail on the sophistication of an elephant’s trunk, on how many quite fine motor tasks an elephant can perform with this remarkable appendage. A relationship was theorized between the brain strength required to power such a complex organ or limb and the general intellectual capacity of the elephant. Continue reading On the Intelligence of Elephants

The Cinch Review

King Juan Carlos of Spain breaks hip, apologizes

Emerging from the hospital in Madrid after being treated for a broken hip, King Juan Carlos addressed reporters and said: “I am very sorry. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again.” He also thanked the staff at the hospital for the treatment he received.

Although the King didn’t say precisely what he was very sorry about (his clumsiness, perhaps?), it was widely interpreted as being an apology for going elephant hunting in Botswana while the ordinary people of Spain languish with 23% unemployment and an ever-worsening economic situation. His African hunting trip only became public knowledge due to the fall which resulted in his broken hip. The news of how he was spending his time sparked outrage among those who apparently believe that kings should mope in their castles when socialist policies drive their nations to the brink of economic collapse. Well, thanks to his hip injury, King Juan Carlos now has good reason to mope.

And yes, you read that right: the King of Spain was hunting elephants. He also happens to be the honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund in Spain. And that, in the end, is the ironic detail which made noting this story irresistible.