View Full Version : Wow, who knew they were this smart?

10-31-2006, 01:30 PM
Leader of Pach Aces Test


Vanity was apparently no issue with Happy, one of the Bronx Zoo's three elephants who thrilled researchers by showing that pachyderms can recognize themselves in a mirror.

The testing suggests elephants - or at least the 35-year-old Happy - are self-aware, joining a small circle that includes humans, chimps and dolphins.

"They're all rather intelligent animals," researcher Diana Reiss told the Daily News. "They all show evidence for helping other animals."

Reiss, a psychobiologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, was one of the researchers involved in the study, which appears on the Web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org/).

Reiss said the researchers put an 8-foot-by-8-foot acrylic mirror in the elephant enclosure last year and observed Happy and habitat-mates Maxine and Patty exploring the mirror - "sort of like a Harpo Marx-Lucille Ball skit."

Happy repeatedly used her trunk to touch an "X" painted above her eye. The elephant could not have seen the mark except in her reflection.

While Maxine and Patty failed the "X" touch test, they still reacted to the mirror - Maxine, for example, probed her mouth with her trunk and pulled an ear toward it, as if primping.

Reiss said she tried a similar experiment with her Newfoundland dog. "He's a really smart dog," she noted.

The results? "Nothing."