Elephants Already Knew This
In addition to having the largest brain of any land animal, research reveals elephants can identify languages, use tools, and even understand human body language.
We are also learning that female elephants in the wild, as reported this week, play a critically important role in passing down survival clues and strategies to their next generation.
Hundreds of female elephants in Kenya have been continuously monitored for more than forty years, revealing that the mothers – and in some cases even the grandmothers – of elephants help their young in multiple ways, including sharing where to locate water during dry times and where to go to find safety from dangers.
Elephants may also have figured out long before researchers came around to it that one of the best ways to help the young thrive and prosper is to have active and engaged parents – and even grandparents – in raising and rearing young ones.
The approach du jour in America’s public policy community is to deploy “two-generation” approaches to social problems, especially when considering interventions that try to address those living in poverty.
This two-generation lens suggests that to alleviate the very deep and destructive impact of poverty on individual lives we need to think – and act – long-term in considering solutions.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of a number of groups leading this surge of interest in addressing the needs of parents and their children simultaneously when considering interventions to impact individuals with very limited resources.
We now know much more about how to help families thrive through this work, recognizing how important it is to equip parents with the education and resources they need to give their children the best chance to break out of poverty.
We focus on the mom and the baby, knowing we need to support the healthy growth of both so that the family can succeed and prosper.
Looking at recent reports on the mothering instincts of one of the largest creatures in the wild – the elephant – it appears we may finally be catching up to what these creatures have long naturally understood.