Elephant Scores 87 Percent on Math Exam at Zoo

The elephant's memory is legendary, but in a large, gray surprise to science, the mighty Asian elephant turns out to have a distinct flair for math as well

Under carefully controlled experimental conditions — essentially comprising a large cage and two buckets of assorted fruit — one elephant at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo managed to get its sums right 87 percent of the time.

A slightly less gifted pachyderm across the country in Kyoto scored a still respectable 69 percent.

The curiously accurate adding skills of Elephas maximus have been discovered by Naoko Irie, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Tokyo putting the finishing touches to her doctoral thesis.

In her tests, three apples were dropped into one bucket and five into a second one next to it. Two more apples were added to each bucket, leaving the first with five and the second with seven apples.

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