As we study elephants, we learn more and more about the bonds they are capable of forming. Elephants have been seen mourning their dead, and even the death of their handlers and veterinarians. In ancient India, elephant riders were raised alongside their elephants from birth.

It should then come as no surprise that elephants can be very protective of their friends and family. Here to illustrate this, are some handlers from Chiang Mai, Thailand and the 17 year old elephant Thongsri. Without a second thought, she comes charging and trumpeting over, circling her handler while kneeling down to make sure he’s okay. It makes us want to have elephant friends of our own!