Joyce Poole always had a deep-seated passion for animals, especially elephants. So, when she was offered the chance of a lifetime in 1975 at just 19-years-old, the nature lover knew it was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up. Poole began studying elephants at Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Decades later, some of her most valuable work has now gone public.
Soon into her research, Poole discovered that male African elephants could develop reproductive cycles, called musth. This was a long-debated topic, as many elephant biologists argued against the idea. This finding launched Joyce's career and led her to become a National Geographic Explorer and world expert on African elephant behavior.
In a matter of years, Poole created several opportunities for the world to learn more about the large animals. First, in 2002, she and her husband founded the non-profit ElephantVoices to educate the public about how the mammal communicates. Then, Joyce created the African Elephant Ethogram. The AEE is an incredible audiovisual library of African savanna elephant behavior.
On May 25th, the database went public. This means the world has now gained access to search for and learn about elephant's specific behaviors. "Once you're able to read [elephant's] body language and understand their vocalization, a whole new world opens to you. People can experience this through the ethogram," Joyce explained to National Geographic's Virginia Morell. She hopes her work inspires people "To explore and contemplate the hearts and minds of elephants."
The African Elephant Ethogram contains information that Poole collected throughout the past 46+ years. Users can read through the user guide, utilize the science section, or head directly to the Ethogram Table. One can scroll the list of behaviors, click, and watch a detailed video showing and describing an elephant's movements.
When asked about her most important finding to date, Poole replied: "[The AAE] confirmed how intelligent, empathetic, and creative elephants are." At the end of the day, Joyce "[Hopes] the ethogram inspires people." We don't know about you, but we're thrilled to gain access to knowledge of how these beautiful animals function!