3. Big Sister Takes Charge: Allomothering in African Elephants

Kaitlyn Basel Butler University, Rebecca Greenberg Butler University, Kaitlyn Landis Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Robert Dale Butler University
We examined the social behavior of three juvenile African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the Indianapolis Zoo by collecting digital video of these animals’ interactions. In African range countries, it is typical for a teenage female elephant to assist an adult female with the care of her young. This behavior is known as “allomothering.” Nyah and Kalina are two unrelated females that are six and seven years old, respectively. We’ve recorded their behavior while they were temporarily housed with Nyah’s twelve-year-old sister, Zahara. Our intention was to determine whether Zahara, ex situ, would exhibit allomothering behaviors similar to those of female teenage elephants, in situ. This was the case. Nyah and Kalina frequently engaged in a behavior known as “play-sparring.” When the play became rough, Zahara would intervene to stop the sparring. However, she showed a preference toward her younger sister by almost always displacing Kalina when separating the pair.
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library Lower Level