Based on a moving footage showcasing an Asian elephant reuniting with her mother after years apart, it appears that the old adage that an elephant never forgets is true.
After a 62-mile (100km) trek through the Thai jungle, Me-Bai, the little elephant, nuzzles her mother, Mae Yui, as the pair flaunts their ears and trunks.
When Me-Bai was three and a half years old, she was sold to provide transportation for tourists in Thailand, and she didn’t see her mother, who worked in the same trade, for three years.
It’s terrible to hear something so devastating. Females form tight their herds until they die, sharing very powerful relationships. They are rarely torn away before the calf reaches five years of age.
According to Elephant News’ YouTube page, the little elephant left tourism because she was “too young” and began to lose weight, and could no longer carry tourists.
Me-Bai was recently recovered and brought to the sanctuary after having completed a 62-mile (100km) long journey.
‘She was nervous and wary of people when she first arrived at our sanctuary, but she quickly learned that her new keepers had no desire to mistreat her.’
National Geographic reported that she was initially wary of humans but quickly adjusted to her new surroundings.
Workers discovered that Mae Yui’s mother was employed in the tourist sector nearby, and the owners agreed to retire Mae Yui so she might care for her young at the sanctuary.
The emotional moment the pair were reunited was captured on camera.
It depicts the elephants snuggling and stroking each other with their trunks, flapping their ears as if they were joyful – seeming to be relieved – after spending an anxious half hour together where keepers worried that they would be divided again.
A previous study conducted at the park by Mahidol University in Thailand and Emory University in the US found Elephants can comfort one another by chirping softly and stroking each other’s heads and genitals when they are disturbed.
These actions can be seen in the video.
According to psychologist and elephant behavior specialist Preston Foerder of the University of Tennessee, the elephants are communicating with touch, sound, and sight because their trunks are so sensitive.
Later in the video, the duo can be seen walking and eating together happily.
However, animal behavior expert Frans de Waal of Emory University stated that it’s conceivable the elephants don’t remember each other but are simply a compatible pair.
‘There is no doubt about elephant feelings and bonding, but we humans like to read the mother-child relation into this,’ he said.
‘It’s conceivable that the two recall one another, but the video isn’t enough to demonstrate this.’
Whatever the case, the sanctuary says: ‘Now, Mae Yui’s owners and Elephant Nature Park are working together to rehabilitate Mae Yui and Me-Bai so that they can return to the wild and live free.’