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Personality Assessment and Its Association With Genetic Factors in Captive Asian and African Elephants


  • Grant sponsor: International Training Program- Primate Origins of Human Evolution (ITP-HOPE); Grant sponsor: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); Grant number: 21310150; Grant sponsor: Global Center of Excellence Program.

Correspondence to: Miho Inoue-Murayama, Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8203, Japan. E-mail:


Elephants live in a complex society based on matrilineal groups. Management of captive elephants is difficult, partly because each elephant has a unique personality. For a better understanding of elephant well being in captivity, it would be helpful to systematically evaluate elephants' personalities and their underlying biological basis. We sent elephant' personality questionnaires to keepers of 75 elephants. We also used 196 elephant DNA samples to search for genetic polymorphisms in genes expressed in the brain that have been suggested to be related to personality traits. Three genes, androgen receptor (AR), fragile X related mental retardation protein interacting protein (NUFIP2), and acheate-scute homologs 1 (ASH1) contained polymorphic regions. We examined the association of personality with intraspecific genetic variation in 17 Asian and 28 African elephants. The results suggest that the ASH1 genotype was associated with neuroticism in Asian elephants. Subjects with short alleles had lower scores of neuroticism than those with long alleles. This is the first report of an association between a genetic polymorphism and personality in elephants. Zoo Biol. 32:70-78, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.