Topic: Zoo

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Elephant intelligence

Mammals Zoo

Elephant cognition is the study of animal cognition as present in elephants. Most contemporary ethologists view the elephant as one of the world's most intelligent animals. With a mass of just over 11 lb (5 kg), an elephant's brain has more mass than that of any other land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twenty times those of a typical elephant, a whale's brain is barely twice the mass of an elephant's brain. In addition, elephants have a total of 300 billion neurons. Elephant brains are similar to humans' and many other mammals' in terms of general connectivity and functional areas, with several unique structural differences. The elephant cortex has as many neurons as a human brain, suggesting convergent evolution.

Elephants manifest a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, mimicry, play, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory, and communication. Further, evidence suggests elephants may understand pointing: the ability to nonverbally communicate an object by extending a finger, or equivalent. It is thought they are equal with cetaceans and primates in this regard. Due to such claims of high intelligence and due to strong family ties of elephants, some researchers argue it is morally wrong for humans to cull them. Aristotle described the elephant as "the animal that surpasses all others in wit and mind."

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Ken Allen

Zoo Primates

Ken Allen (February 13, 1971 – December 1, 2000) was a Bornean orangutan at the San Diego Zoo. He became one of the most popular animals in the history of the zoo because of his many successful escapes from his enclosures. He was nicknamed "the hairy Houdini".

Ken Allen was born in captivity at the San Diego Zoo in 1971. During the 1980s, Ken Allen gained worldwide attention for a series of three escapes from his enclosure, which had been thought to be escape-proof. During some of his escapes, his female companions would join him. Ken Allen's ability to outwit his keepers, as well as his docile demeanor during his escapes, resulted in fame. He had his own fan club, and was the subject of T-shirts and bumper stickers (most reading "Free Ken Allen"). A song, The Ballad of Ken Allen, was written about him.

Ken Allen developed prostate cancer and was euthanized on December 1, 2000. He was 29 years old.

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Hoover (Seal)

United States Biography United States/Massachusetts Mammals Zoo

Hoover (c. 1971 – July 25, 1985) was a harbor seal who was able to imitate basic human speech.

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