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Elephants and Dementia? PLEASE READ!

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by KatyBaily, 20 Apr 2016.

  1. KatyBaily

    KatyBaily New Member

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    Hi, I'm a student starting my third year next year. For my dissertation, I want to write a paper on elephants and mental degeneration such as dementia.

    Do you know of any elephants that act strangely, showing the same symptoms as humans do for dementia? Have you heard of it before, if so where? What are your thoughts on this topic? Even better, if you know of an elephant that has been tested or you believe has dementia?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. Asiaticlion2015

    Asiaticlion2015 Well-Known Member

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    I know that in captivity elephants can sometimes display abnormal behaviour such as head bobbing and swaying don't know if that would class as mental degeneration . I'll leave a link to a good video. But what your doing seems interesting and good luck.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=igrMV
     
  3. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    Elephants definitely show a difference between "normal" and stressed". What we consider "stressed" appears to be more common in Asian elephants, but it certainly occurs in Africans as well. As mentioned above, head bobbing and swaying are the main symptoms. The degree of these behaviors indicate the severity of the stress. I don't know if it would be considered dementia, per se, but it is certainly not normal behavior. It occurs commonly in zoos, but steps are being taken to reduce it. The bigger and better elephant habitats springing up all over the nation from accredited zoos are helping.
     
  4. KatyBaily

    KatyBaily New Member

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    Thank you for the replies. I understand the display of stereotypical behaviours, however, it has been noted in two different scientific journals that captive elephants can suffer from dementia, but are not backed up with any studies.
    The behaviours of an elephant with dementia will not only be stereotypies, but also 'mood swings', perhaps showing strange behaviours that link to behaviours of younger elephants (for example, sucking on objects as a young elephant would suckle from mother) or showing stereotypic behaviour despite never doing so before, regardless of environment...

    Thank you!
     
  5. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Clinical diagnosis of dementia in humans can be difficult. You can't ask an elephant if it knows the name of the Prime Minister and I have no idea how such a diagnosis could be made - except by histological examination of brain tissue post mortem. I don't know if this has ever been done and unless you have some data from such an examination I would respectfully suggest that you look for an alternative subject.

    Alan
     
  6. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

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    I think your best bet is a well written email to zoos that keep elephants; especially any that have kept them long term over many generations not just one or two. Further try to get the email of the keeper rather than general enquiries.

    After that you might want to hit the journals and see if you can find anything on general mental states and elephants; note down any key researchers involved and again fire off the emails.

    Sometimes you have to go to the source of the information to find it; however if there is very little to nothing published on this you might find it a challenging dissertation.
     
  7. KatyBaily

    KatyBaily New Member

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    Thank you for all your replies!

    After reading your comments and speaking to my tutor I will be doing some research before I commit to this topic for my dissertation. However, I believe that this will still be possible. Difficult but possible! :)
     
  8. ZooElephantsMan

    ZooElephantsMan Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you could test it by noticing if they are trained, but as they get older they start to forget some of the commands