Spreading and Lifting the ears so that the ear tops are lifted above the top of the head. An elephant normally holds its ears in a relaxed position such that they rest approximately 10-30cm from the side of the body and lie such that the tops of the ears are basically in line with the top of the head. In this relaxed position the ears do not appear stiff or tense, lifted, spread, or pressed against the body. The posture can be most clearly seen when adult, adolescent and juvenile female elephants engage in Little-Greetings-Rumbles or Coo-Rumbles, as they touch infants.
Calves and Infants, likewise, may be observed to Ear-Lift as they are touched and respond with an As-Touched-Rumbles. Adult, adolescent, and juvenile females also display Ear-Lifting during more intense social interactions (e.g. Matings, Births, Greetings, Greeting-Ceremonies, Coalition formation etc.). During these highly aroused contexts Ear-Lifting is combined with Rapid-Ear-Flapping.
References: Poole et al 1988; Poole 1996: 93; Poole 1999a; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)
This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Birth, Calf Reassurance & Protection