Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

An obviously attentive adult or adolescent female caring for a newborn, demonstratively swinging her trunk back to touch, or near touch, her breasts or the space between them. This behavior is observed in the context of a newborn who is still exploring and discovering where to Suckle, and who is hovering near the front legs of the actor and would be able to see the trunk movement. The swinging movement may be repeated. This clear movement is not the same as Scratch-with-Trunk, or Touch-Self, in which the elephant casually scratches, or appears to scratch, an itch.

References: Poole & Granli 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Birth, Calf Nourishment & Weaning

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

Little E is only hours old. He is under the belly of allomother V-Notch who repetitively reaches back to touch little E as he tries to find her breast. The movement of her trunk looks as if she could be aiming to lift his mouth to the correct position. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (2)

Little E is only 2 days old. He Suckles as his mother, mama Little E, adopts Suckle-Stance. Mama Little E touches appearing to lift his head to Guide him to her breast. Allomother V-Notch touches him Trunk-to-Body and Trunk-to-Mouth. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (3

Little E is 4 days old and is trying to Suckle in the middle of a Greeting Ceremony. Notice that his mother, Mama Little E, reaches back to touch him several times appearing to check how he is doing and on one occasion appears to use her trunk to Guide him to the correct location (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast). (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (4)

Little E is 5 days old and is Suckling from his mother, Mama Little E. She is browsing but has adopted a Suckle-Stance with her foreleg forward to give him access to her breast. Little E reaches up to Suckle and she pauses in her feeding to reach back to touch him Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast. Notice how she seems to use her trunk to stroke up under his mouth as if lifting his mouth back to her breast (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast/Guiding) and then Little E begins to Suckle again. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (5)

Little E is 6 days old and trying to Suckle. Mama Little E is seen to Sniff-Toward (back) presumably as she notices the approach of Grumpy Grandma behind her. She reaches back her Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast x 2, the second time actually appearing to use her trunk to lift Little E's mouth to the right location.

As Little E seems to finally Suckle Grumpy Grandma arrives and Social-Rubs against Mama Little E's rump and flank, disturbing Little E. Grumpy Grandma walks on and Mama Little E continues to stand as Little E struggles to suckle with his mother not in the right posture. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (6)

Little E is only 2 days old. He is under the belly of allomother V-Notch who repetitively reaches back to touch little E. She swings her trunk back to touch him 7 times and then as he tries to find her breast, on the 8th swing she seems to use an upward swinging movement of her trunk as if she is trying to aim him or Guide him to lift his mouth to the correct position.

Note that we believe the initial swinging was meant to get his attention. In the middle of this the younger allomother, Lorato, suddenly gets a fright and threatens the car and all turn to face car Ear-Spreading. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (7)

Little E is 4 days old and makes the mistake of getting too close to Grumpy Grandma, f0412, and she Kicks-Back at him and Little E Roars. Lorato reaches out to him, Trunk-to-Mouth. Grumpy Grandma Kicks-Back again, and Little E Roars again, and then she Tusks him and he Roars.

As part of the Tusking movement she curls her trunk and touches him in a gentle Conciliatory way and seems to direct him straight toward his mother (possible Shepherding). It is hard to see through branches and legs, but there is a lot of rumbling and Mama Little E reaches out with her trunk and appears to directs him to her breast (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast x2) and he immediately Suckles.

When Grumpy Grandma Tusked Little E, allomother Lorato scooted around the front and then Backs-Toward Grumpy Grandma to stand next to Mama Little E such that Little E is protected in between them. Having seen this type of action before we believe her placement is purposeful. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (8)

Little E has been busy exploring and drinking and blowing bubbles in the water, while his allomothers wait patiently for him and help him to balance.

As the clip begins Little E is balancing on a rock and reaches his trunk up to try to Comfort-Suckle from Lorato, who simultaneously adopts a Suckle-Stance putting her foot forward to give him access. As he tries to find her teat she reaches her trunk back between her forelegs (we can see the tip appear) as if to check what he is doing, to show him or help him find her teat (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast). He appears to successfully suck for a few seconds before Lorato slips and he loses contact and goes back to blowing bubbles in the stream. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (9)

The clip starts as Little E is searching for the breast - Solicit-Suckling, starting at the wrong end and then moving forward, searching. We see a trunk come down toward his and we see his trunk reach up between front legs of an adolescent (no breasts, non-lactating) allomother Lorato.

She touches between her legs and also touches his trunk (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast). He continues to search then behind her foreleg in the correct position. Then he Rubs against her leg. She puts her foreleg forward adopting a Suckle-Stance and simultaneously puts her Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast again x2 as if to Guide him. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (10)

Fayza has a newborn male. He has been Suckling from her and when finished he wanders over to one of his two allomothers and tries to Comfort-Suckle from the older of them. This juvenile females reaches back several times in a Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (11)

Angelina has newborn twins and several allomothers are helping her to look after them. In this clip Arora B is trying to Comfort-Suckle the male. Notice how she reaches Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast twice. It appears that she may be trying to help him find where to Suckle. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (12)

Angelina has newborn twins and several allomothers are helping her to look after them. In this clip a tuskless 3-4 year old is trying to Comfort-Suckle the female. Notice how she reaches Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast as if showing her where to Suckle. She is vocalizing but we can't hear it above the vehicle sound. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (13)

Noyeau has a newborn male infant. Notice how when he is suckling she reaches her Trunk-to-Infant-at Breast, as if to check how he is doing. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (14)

Qoral has a newborn infant and Qasima's 10 year old daughter is helping to look after him. She works very hard to have him Comfort-Suckle from her, using her trunk to apparently try to help him to locate her nipple. She engages in Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast 10 times in a minute and a half. On the second occasion she puts her trunk inside his mouth as if to stimulate him to Suckle.

Notice how she stands with her foot forward in a Suckle-Stance. It is hard to see what she is touching between her legs but it often seems as if she is touching her nipple or moving his lips in the right location. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast

Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (15)

Qoral has a newborn infant who has just been knocked over. As the clip starts his mother and other family members are comforting him with Coo-Rumbles. There are other Rumbles as well as a Mating-Pandemonium is still ongoing. As the infant searches for her breast Qoral reaches back between her legs to her breast and to his mouth 6 times. At one point we can see that the tip of her trunk is in his mouth. Eventually he reaches and nipple and we can hear loud suckle sounds. (Amboseli, Kenya)