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Abnormal Behaviors

• Elephants who drag their trunks may be suffering from partial trunk paralysis caused by trauma. There should be a record of veterinary care for this condition.

• Open-mouthed breathing can be a sign that an elephant is in pain.

• Bringing their ears forward and extending them out from the head, spraying water or dirt, and using their trunks to throw objects at people can all be signs of aggression.

• Look for signs of “stereotypic” behavior—rocking, swaying, head-bobbing, or other repetitive movement. Stereotypic behavior is a sign of psychological distress.

• Elephants typically will not lie down on their own in the presence of strangers. An elephant who remains in a recumbent position may be sick.

• Crossing their legs may indicate irritation and itching caused by chaining, a stomach ache, and/or joint pain.