According to theunboundedspirit.com:

As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Does the above story have any foundation in real life?

  • Reminds me of the one about monkeys and bananas Jun 7 '18 at 22:34
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh yes, sort of related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6828/… Jun 7 '18 at 22:37
  • 1
    It is probable that most elephants don't have strong desires to escape from where they are tethered. When an elephant gets excited, on the other hand, they can be impossible to restrain with chain and stakes. Stampeding elephants can run right through wooden buildings, smashing in through one wall and the inside walls, and smashing out through the wall on the far side. One bull elephant pushed another through the outside wall of their barn, made of brick 14 inches thick, neither was hurt much. Jun 8 '18 at 1:31
  • I remember to watch it on some documentary more than one time, anyway I think it's narrowed enough to qualify for a new question and answers can be very different from the monkeys and bananas
    – jean
    Jun 8 '18 at 11:05

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