Elephants learn to work together

Can elephants learn to work together to complete a task that they cannot achieve on their own?

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.



Presenter: So here's the problem, the elephants need to be able to pull the table closer to gain access to the sunflower seeds, and they need the rope to do that. But if only one of them pulls the rope, the table doesn't move and they both go hungry. So can two elephants figure out they need to work together to solve a brand new problem?

[Josh speaking in Thai language]

Presenter: They don’t get it first time out, that’s for sure. But their four kilogram brains may just be at work. 

Josh: The first thing I think that they learn, and there has to be some learning involved in this as this is a task they've never experienced before. Erm, the first thing is that they've learned that their partner needs to be there. And I think in some ways they’ve learned not only does their partner need to be there but their partner needs to be doing something.

Presenter: After only three attempts the smartest elephants solve the puzzle. But Josh wants to know if they understand the concept behind it. So he releases one elephant before the other to see if it'll wait for its partner. After eight years of working with elephants Josh had a hunch that was going to happen and now he’s got proof.

Josh: What you're seeing is that the elephants are thinking about co-operation. Erm, and that actually demonstrates how smart and how well-adapted these animals are.

Presenter: It's incredible to prove that animals are smart enough to co-operate.


Task 1

Task 2


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Submitted by Miguelitorico1996 on Thu, 17/02/2022 - 21:17


In a previous video I learned how bottlenose dolphins work together to hunt fish, I was impressed by how intelligent they are, I think that human beings underestimate the intelligence of animals and how they can cooperate in order to survive.

Submitted by Sacried on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 09:38

Hello! Tell me please what meaning the word "brand" has in this video. "to work together to solve a brand new problem?" Thanks a lot. Regards Olga
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 12:44

In reply to by Sacried


Hello Olga

Good question! 'brand new' is just an emphatic way of saying 'new'. If you follow the link, you can see a couple of other example sentences.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Dee on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 10:54

We always had dogs in my parents house and I remember they were very intelligent.They were German Shepherd Dogs and they were sweet and had very friendly behaviour with family members.They were playing with us regular games of fetch with stick, ball or frisbee.

Submitted by Dina90 on Tue, 06/03/2018 - 06:10

I don't have any animal but when i see them at any other place I'm always impressed by their actions and the ways they adapt and even the ways by which they deal with us.

Submitted by Mischet on Tue, 30/01/2018 - 20:32

The animals are very intelligent.They are enough brain to solve a problem..specially when is something that they like ÷food or another thing prefered

Submitted by OlgaTi on Tue, 30/01/2018 - 18:42

I have a dog and he is clever, but I can not say that he can co-operate with other dogs.. Maybe if my dog gets in to trouble he wii do it.