June 18th, 2010
12:18 AM ET

Elephants are soccer giants

Namibia, one the players at the Knysna Elephant Park, is favorite to win this tackle.
Namibia, one the players at the Knysna Elephant Park, is favorite to win this tackle.

Knysna Elephant Park, South Africa - The real giant of soccer isn't Ronaldo, Kaka or Messi - it's Namibia, a four-ton orphaned elephant with serious dribbling skills and a placid temperament unlike many of the stars on the human fields.

At the Knysna Elephant Park in South Africa, orphaned elephants have been kicking a soccer ball for years. This year the playing pachyderms have gotten into the spirit of the World Cup.

It's not just fun and games, though. "It's cognitive development therapy for them," says park manager Greg Vogt. "Soccer and playing with the soccer ball brings in an element in the relationship between each of the handlers and the elephants. Every elephant is an individual, a specific personality and every handler has his own personality."

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. IRIS FIGUEROA GUEVARA

    It is wonderful learn about "soccer-player" elephants, which makes me confirm that they are the closest animals to humankind apart from dogs and cats.........It is really worrying to know that there remain a few, though......I do hope their exctint issue can be prevented from happening.

    Thanks!!!!!!!

    June 18, 2010 at 4:35 am | Reply
  2. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Years ago there came out an Indian Hindi film named 'Haathi Mere Saathi' meaning Elephant is my companion. The communication and relationship of the elephant with the human actor was something that I can still recall vividly. It was awesome. One gets to see from close elephants and their caregivers at our Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary in the Eastern Indian State of Assam. They seem to understand and behave with each other on cordial terms for most of the time. Elephants are indeed special.

    July 28, 2010 at 5:45 am | Reply

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