An exuberant display of behavior involving a constellation of vocal, chemical, tactile and visual communication that may occur, for example, during a greeting, birth, mating, kidnapping, rescue, arrival of a musth male, a coalition, or when a group of elephants have successfully routed an adversary. The term Bonding-Ceremony is a general term that includes more specific behavioral constellations such as Coalition, End-Zone-Dance, High-Fiving, Female-Chorus, Greeting-Ceremony, Mating Pandemonium. The behaviors appear to function to reinforce bonds and pull family and bond group members together for collective action.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Moss 1981, 1988; Poole1987b; Poole et al. 1988; Poole 1996: 93; Poole 1998a; Poole 1999b, 2000a; Payne 2003; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011; Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Back-Toward, Defecating, Ear-Folding, Ear-Lifting, Ear-Spreading, Head-Raising, Open-Mouth, Open-Mouth-to-Open-Mouth, Pirouette, Rapid-Ear-Flapping, Reach-Touch, Rumble-Roar-Rumble, Snort, Social-Trumpet, Tail-Raising, Temporin, Trunk-to-Mouth, Trunk-Twining, Tusk-Clank, Urinating and occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Birth, Coalition Building, Courtship


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (1)

'A calf who was lying down got squished', Joyce says. This part of the behavior was out of view, but you can hear her Roar and when the camera pans over to the NDs family we can see females rushing to the aid of a calf who stands in the middle of a group with an Open-Mouth. There is Rumbling and a Trumpet. Then more Rumbling as the females and other calves touch the calf Trunk-to-Mouth and Trunk-to-Genitals she gives two Baroo Rumbles. Interestingly, when inspecting the spectograms the calls by the adults are bimodal. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (2)

A Mating between Pascal and Qadija has just taken place a couple of minutes ago and a Mating-Pandemonium is ongoing. As the clip starts Queiroz, who has been most vocal during the Pandemonium, moves from left to right and the others begin to follow her. She gives another Rumble. Then we think what happens is that Matriarch Qoral and mother of the newborn Pushes 10 year old allomother Qaskazi (daughter of Qasima) out of the way. Qaskazi then inadvertently knocks the infant over who Roars twice. Someone, gives what sounds like a Trumpet-Blast, but is most likely a Social-Trumpet. There is a Snort followed by a very weird call that is impossible to classify.

Qasima with the convergent tusks has her Ears-Lifted and Head-Raised. She turns to faces us and Rumbles loudly. Qoral steps forward with her and someone, possibly Qaskazi, gives a Snort-Trumpet. Qasima Rumbles and Urinates. Qoral reaches back to check on her infant and Coo-Rumbles to him. Qaskazi, behind Qoral reaches out to Pull the infant toward her and likely gives a Coo-Rumble. Qasima still facing us Rumbles again. Qoral gives another Coo-Rumble as then infant tries to Suckle. Both Qoral and Qasima Rumble in unison and perhaps others join in. Queiroz on the right gives a powerful Rumble that is likely still related to the Mating.

The infant is Suckling from Qoral and she reaches back Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast to help him and Coo-Rumbles. Simultaneously, Qasima reaches Trunk-Toward the infant and Coo-Rumbles. Queiroz to the right who is also being Suckled gives another powerful Rumble. Both Qoral and Qasima Coo-Rumble again, Qasima reaching Trunk-Toward the infant a second time. Queiroz, too, reaches Trunk-Toward the infant and gives another powerful Rumble. Qoral reaches back Trunk-to-Infant-at-breast and gives another Coo-Rumble. Qaskazi the 10 year old comes from behind Qoral and touches the infant Trunk-to-Genitals and Coo-Rumbles, her mouth open. She Backs-Toward Qoral, Kicking-Back and Tail-Swatting in a Conciliatory or appeasement gesture. Throughout there is a lot of Rapid-Ear-Flapping and some Tail-Raising. Quieroz has Temporin.

Some behaviors and calls have been missed in this explanation, but it was an extraordinarily difficult clip to annotate. We present it here as an example of what we call a Bonding-Ceremony. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Coalition Building (1)

An adult female and two tuskless calves, one about four and the other about 6 are feeding on grass. As we drive up we are unaware that another four year old - the son of the female on the left is separated from the family about 50 meters away and it is probably concern about him that stimulates their response. They react to us in a dramatic fashion, initiated by the larger tuskless juvenile female who Rumble-Roars twice. The other tuskless calf seems to Rumble-Roar, too. The mother on the left Head-Shakes and Trumpets and the other adult female comes running over to help, also Trumpeting. These are what we would call Social-Trumpets. They Bunch and the two mothers Stand-Tall, Rumbling and Reach-Touch one another and continue to Rumble. The female on the right Trumpets again. The older tuskless reaches Trunk-to-Mouth to the littler one. They Listen. The mother on the right reaches Trunk-to-Mouth to her tuskless calf. The older tuskless touches the younger again, too. They begin feeding again, but continue Rumbling. We move the car and the female who is missing her male calf Rumbles and then Listens as we stop. Her male calf suddenly comes into frame - we have been hearing him give Separated-Rumbles. He walks to his mother and begins Suckling and then they all move off. The initial behavior and vocalizations are what we call the catch-all term 'Bonding-Ceremony'. (Amboseli, Kenya)