An elephant's memory spans a large number of years, according to Defenders of Wildlife. This long memory helps the matriarch lead her herd over long distances to waterholes she remembers from the past.

Elephants also harbor grudges, remember lost loved ones and recognize long-lost friends. When a friend or loved one returns after a long absence, elephants show their recognition and happiness by spinning in circles, flapping their ears and trumpeting. Elephants are extremely intelligent, and they are able to learn through watching and mimicking. They also display compassion, as they care for wounded members and grieve for those who have died.