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Are Elephants Friendly? Do They Show Affection to Humans?

Elephants are herbivores, giant mammals that live in Africa and Asia. Only three species of elephants exist currently; African forest elephants, Asian elephants, and African bush elephants.

All three existing species are known to avoid trouble in the wild, and this behavior has made many people consider them docile. In fact, the calmness of elephants has made them quite easy to tame (sometimes through a great deal of suffering for them), and most people see them as friendly wild giants.

But can elephants be truly friendly to humans and possibly like us? Find out in this guide.

Are Elephants Friendly to Humans?

Wild elephants that have never experienced human training or interaction will not be friendly with us. Elephants are reserved animals, and seeing us in the wild will make them cautious and wild.

These big giants only care about themselves and will attack a human that tries to come too close. They rarely attack us if we maintain our distance when we see them in the wild.

However, elephants grown in captivity and treated right tend to show tolerance towards humans and can even play with their owners.

Are Elephants Docile?

In the wild, elephants will never hunt other animals and often try to avoid big cats and alligators if they can. It is this character that fuels the belief that elephants are docile. In reality, though, elephants in nature are not animals to mess with, as they can significantly injure predators when they attack in numbers.

In captivity, elephants are tamed mentally with love, care, and, sometimes, aggressive training. However, these techniques do not make them friendly home pets.

Also read: Why Do Elephants Hold Tails? Here Are 5 Reasons

Elephant friendly with human

Do Elephants Like Humans?

In nature, elephants always show defensive behavior against humans and could charge if threatened.

However, when a young elephant is raised by a human and around other humans, it loses its natural wariness and could start to see us as its family. Well-raised elephants can even initiate play with humans by brushing us with their trunks.

Do Elephants Like Being Petted?

Natural wild elephants do not like being petted and will react aggressively if we try to touch them. Elephants are huge mammals weighing up to over 6000 pounds, so it is very dangerous to pet them as that can trigger an undesired response.

Young elephants raised close to humans like to be petted even up to adulthood. They see humans as family and relish our touch. They do not mind becoming a beast of burden as long as we respect their limits and understand that provoking them can make them destructive.

Elephants are the only large wild mammals that even nonprofessional trainers have been able to raise successfully, though with risks.

Also read: Why Do Elephants Throw Dirt on Themselves?

Do Elephants Bond with Humans?

Elephants can like us and even bond with us when raised in captivity. They tend to accept us as family and do not mind us touching them and having a ride on their back.

Successfully raising elephants with positive reinforcement like treats and praises can make them more accepting. They are intelligent and know how to do what makes us happy consistently.

In fact, elephants can protect their owners from dangers and threats in certain instances.

Also read: What Eats Elephants? All About Elephants Predators 

Do Elephants Have Feelings?

Elephants have feelings. One of the most intelligent mammals in the world, elephants can show feelings and are capable of complex emotions.

They can express happiness, confusion, sadness, and even fear. When in captivity, professional trainers tend to understand these feelings, which makes them more suited to raise elephants.

Elephants showing affection

How Do Elephants Show Affection?

Elephants show affection to one another in the wild. Soothing and soft rumblings are one of the ways they show care for themselves. They also express their affection by using their trunks to caress themselves.

Due to their high intelligence, elephants can live in strongly knitted family groups and protect themselves from predators as a common unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Elephants Gentle?

Elephants are so gentle they are willing to sacrifice food and space for smaller animals to avoid a confrontation. Elephants only ever attack other animals when they are defending themselves.

Are Elephants Peaceful?

Elephants are very peaceful and always avoid confrontation, whether in the wild or in captivity. They know the sound of danger, like lion roars, and will tense up, ready to attack if there is no way to avoid a confrontation.

How Do Elephants See Humans?

In nature, elephants see humans as one of the many animals they share habitats with and treat us as such. They will ignore us if we maintain our distance and let them be. If we get too close and try to touch them, they will treat us like they do other animals; chase us off, or charge at us to cause real hurt.

Do Elephants Attack Humans?

Elephants will only attack humans if they are sorely provoked or threatened. They will show aggression and even try to stomp us. In captivity, though, they are more tolerant of humans and may even be friendly.

Are Elephants Friendly with Each Other?

Elephants are friendly with each other and express their affection with trunk caressing and soft rumblings. They form a strong unit to protect themselves from predators and will keep the bond for as long as they can.

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