|Why do we feel a special affection for elephants? Perhaps because they are the most 'human' of animals, sharing many similar traits - living the same life span as man, not reaching adulthood until age twenty, with a strong sense of family and death,
The most human trait of all is their ability to feel emotions, for they grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shed tears. They can smile, exhibit envy, jealousy, are fiercely competitive, and can throw tantrums.
When a family member returns after a long absence, a joyful welcoming takes place, with the elephants spinning around, their heads held high, ears flapping as they fill the air with a symphony of trumpets, rumbles, screams, and roars.
And they have special things humans lack: Such as an amazing sense of hearing - communicating in voices we never hear - responding to a footfall coming from miles away. And it's true, an elephant never forgets, for they have a memory that spans their lifetime.
So what about romance you are probably asking?
Like humans, mating begins with affection and courtship. Males and females form attachments, and the couple becomes inseparable, standing away from the herd, walking together, grazing, stroking each other, giving each other a teasing nudge, entwining trunks. constantly smelling and exploring each other.
If two wild bulls want the same female, they fight until the weaker one loses. And while this battle is raging, the female waits patiently, with little concern as to who will win the chance to mate with her.
And to the victor, more flirting, loving touches and trunk twining. The bull’s penis is very large and long, able to move up and down, left and right at will, and when a connection is made, the mating itself lasts under a minute.
After their whirlwind romance that lasts all of 14 days, the male leaves forever and the female is pregnant for almost two years. After the birth, she becomes the head of the family, raising and teaching the young, while the bull is busy finding new females to 'romance'.
Prose by Carol Cavalaris ©05
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