An elephant opening its mouth wide and taking in a deep breath. In humans yawning is usually an involuntary reaction to fatigue or boredom, or can be a reaction to stress or anxiety. Yawning can be contagious. 

While spontaneous Yawning is common across all vertebrates, contagious Yawning is less common and has only been observed in a few species of social animals. Interspecific contagious Yawning has only been observed between humans and chimpanzees, dogs and, most recently, elephants. 

References: Rossman et al 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Maintenance


Context: Maintenance (1)

Amparo is at the end of estrus and is separated from her family. She has given Contact-Rumble to them. She recently Mated with a medium sized male and is now leaving him. She walks away with a Periscope-Trunk, perhaps looking for her family. She Yawns widely and gives what looks like an Ear-Flap-Slide. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Maintenance (2)

A young male turns from Mud-Splashing to face an approaching family group and Yawns. (Amboseli, Kenya)