Clever Elephant’s Creative Solution for Reaching Tasty Fruit

Meet Kandula, a young and intelligent Asian elephant, at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington. When faced with reaching a branch of tempting berries just out of his grasp, Kandula didn’t give up. Instead, he put on his thinking cap and devised an ingenious plan.

During a study conducted by researchers from the City of New York University and the Smithsonian Institute, Kandula’s remarkable problem-solving abilities came to light.

Initially, for seven separate 20-minute sessions, he did not try to use any tools to reach the delicious treat. Then, in a surprising turn of events, Kandula had a “eureka” moment.


He spotted a box in the corner of his enclosure and quickly realized its potential. With determination and foresight, he rolled the box over to the tree and positioned it perfectly underneath the fruit-laden branch. He stepped onto the box in one swift and confident movement, reaching the desired berries.

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Kandula used a box in the corner of his enclosure to stand on to pick berries

One of the researchers, Dr. Emily Mensh, marveled at Kandula’s insight. She said, “We can’t get inside their heads, but the fact that he immediately went over to the block suggests that he was imagining the process ahead of time.”

This discovery provided the first evidence that pachyderms like Kandula can mentally run through problem-solving scenarios.


Kandula’s resourcefulness and intelligence have left researchers in awe, shedding light on the complex cognitive abilities of elephants. It’s no wonder these majestic creatures continue to captivate our imagination and admiration.

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Kandula used his trunk to move the box from the corner of his enclosure to beneath the berry-bearing tree
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Researchers said the apparent flash of insight was the first evidence that elephants can run problem-solving scenarios in their heads
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Kandula earned his tasty treat after using thinking out of the box to reach the branch

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