Clever Elephant Teaches Herself How To Peel Bananas

An Asian elephant living at the Berlin Zoo has blown her caretakers away by learning how to peel bananas.

Pang Pha is beloved at the zoo and online, as she’s been bringing people joy through her presence at the Berlin Zoo and through the zoo’s social media pages for years.

A report in the journal Current Biology explores 36-year-old Pang Pha’s ability to peel bananas and how it could reveal that elephants’ capabilities are far more complex than once believed.

In the report, they explain that Asian elephants enjoy eating bananas, but “Banana peeling appears to be rare in elephants and none of the other Berlin elephants engage in peeling.”

This has them begging the question: Why does Pang Pha peel bananas?

Photo: YouTube/Science X:, Medical Xpress, Tech Xplore

In a video shared on YouTube, you can see the elephant’s method of peeling. She breaks the banana, shakes out and collects the pulp, and discards the peel.

The report notes: “Pha peels faster than humans.”

After observing Pang Pha peeling bananas, researchers believe that the elephant might’ve picked up the habit from humans. They wrote, “Pha was handraised by human caretakers in the Berlin Zoo, who fed her peeled bananas, but never conditioned her to peel them: we suggest she acquired peeling through observational learning from humans.”

Photo: YouTube/Science X:, Medical Xpress, Tech Xplore

Researchers recognize that elephants “appear to be able to interpret human pointing gestures and to classify human ethnic groups, but complex human-derived manipulation behaviors like the banana peeling reported here appear to have only rarely been observed.”

Because of that, Pang Pha’s ability and choice to peel bananas is not something researchers are taking lightly.

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