Researchers studying elephants have noticed something interesting: sometimes when an elephant makes a sound to a group, they all respond, but other times only one does. This suggests elephants might use something like names. A recent study in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park and Samburu National Reserve supports this idea. By listening to over 100 wild African savannah elephants, researchers found a name-like part in their sounds, indicating a certain elephant was being spoken to. Using a computer program, they tested how elephants reacted to calls meant for them versus others. The results showed elephants reacted more strongly to calls directed at them, showing more excitement and moving closer to the sound.

The main researcher, Mickey Pardo from Cornell University, says this means elephants might use names to talk to each other, showing how smart elephants are. He says it shows how important friends are to elephants and how they talk and play with each other. Conservation biologist George Wittemyer, who helped with the study, says other animals like dolphins and parrots use special sounds for individual names, but elephants might think more deeply about it. Still, there is much more to learn about how elephants communicate before comprehending them completely.