morality in smart animals, like human beings and elephants and chimps

what do christians do with this story?

Two elephants walk together at night. (No, this isn’t a joke—it’s a scene from a wildlife reserve in Thailand.) There is heavy rain and the older elephant slips and falls in the mud. She’s unable to get up. The younger elephant, unrelated to her companion, stays with her for most of the night. The next day a group of mahouts, elephant caretakers from the wildlife reserve, try to hoist the elephant up to her feet with braces and ropes. In all the commotion—a crowd has gathered to watch the rescue—the younger elephant remains by the side of her fallen friend. The mahouts and the crowd shout for her to move out of the way, so they can get better leverage. But she won’t budge. Instead, she burrows her head under the body of the other elephant and tries to lift her up. She does this several times, risking injury in the attempts. Incredibly, the elephant appears to recognize that the mahouts want to help rather than hurt her friend. She times her pushes, or so it seemed to me, with the hoisting of the mahouts.

The Believer – Interview with Frans de Waal

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