Photo in the News: Elephants Make a "Love Connection"

Photo: Asian elephants touching trunks
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February 14, 2006—Nam Choke, an eight-year-old male Asian elephant (left), and Boonrawd, a seven-year-old female, form a heart shape with their trunks at an elephant camp in Ayutthaya, Thailand, on February 12.

Like others in the camp, the elephants are domesticated and may perform chores such as giving rides to tourists. But even in the wild, creatures are often seen making displays of what look like pure animal affection.

Female gorillas, for example, cradle their young in their arms as human mothers do. Cranes engage in courtship rituals so elegant that scientists call them dances. And lots of animals, from coyotes to common pigeons, mate for life.

But do animals really love each other?

Most scientists agree that creatures of all kinds share bonds of trust, companionship, and intimacy.

But whether there's love in the wild heart is something that may never be measured.

"Love is almost impossible to prove," says Victoria Horner, animal behaviorist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, in National Geographic Kids magazine.

—Blake de Pastino

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