Elephant Makes a Stool—First Known Aha Moment for Species

Eureka! Burst of insight may redefine elephant intelligence.

In an apparent flash of insight, a young Asian elephant in a zoo turned a plastic cube into a stool—and a tool—a new study says.

That eureka moment is the first evidence that pachyderms can run problem-solving scenarios in their heads, then mentally map out an effective solution, and finally, put the plan into action, researchers say.

Video: Kandula the Elephant's Aha Moment

Correction to video title: Action shown is not first instance of Kandula exhibiting this behavior.

This video requires the latest version of Flash Player. Click here to download. During the study seven-year-old Kandula was eager to reach a cluster of fruit attached to a branch that was suspended from a wire, just out of reach. After some apparent thought, the young male rolled a large plastic cube under the branch and stepped up to snatch the treat with his trunk—a feat he repeated several times over multiple days with the cube and with a tractor tire.

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