Lifting and holding the trunk up in an S-shape, similar to Periscope-Trunk, but with upper bend of the trunk resting against the elephant’s forehead. Circus-Pose appears to be an anticipatory gesture - an elephant waiting for something he or she expects to happen. We have also observed Lorato, an individual adolescent female in Maasai Mara, Kenya, adopt this posture repetitively as an idiosyncratic behavior.

References: Poole & Granli 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Attentive, Novel & Idiosyncratic, Social Play


Context: Aggressive (1)

It is unusual for females to fight with males, but when it occurs it is likely between an adult female and a teenage male and typically when the young male is behaving inappropriately toward her or toward a member of her family. In this case Ozora is in estrous and being lightly Guarded by Liaqat. A young male, about 15 years old, smaller than her and perhaps 15 years younger, is interested in her and, perhaps frustrated by her lack of interest in him, becomes aggressive.

We use the term aggressive Sparring, but if one studies the behavior this is closer to Dueling. Ozora is angry at him Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping and holding her Head-High and Chin-Out. She Backs-Away and he Advances-Toward her. She again Ear-Folds and Ear-Slaps with Head-High and Chin-Out. She Backs-Away again and he presses his advantage. She Lunges at him and they clash and we hear Tusk-Clanks. She Reaches-High, and Lunges at him clashing tusks again. She adopts Circus-Pose and Lunges again then as he Backs-Away she Reaches-High again. She Advances-Toward him Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping as he Backs-Away. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (2)

There was tension around an estrous female and two males began an Escalated-Contest which lasted close to 4 hours. During this period they engaged in 3 bouts of Dueling. After two of these both males engaged in Check-Tusk. This clip is the last Dueling bout.

As the clip begins they Advance-Toward one another Ear-Spreading and Ear-Folding. They reach toward one another in reciprocal Trunk-to-Mouth. The broken-tusked male Backs-Away and the male with the longer tusks presses forward in a Circus-Pose. He Pushes the broken-tusked male back as they clash and we hear Tusks-Clank. The broken-tusked male then Pushes back. They separate. The broken-tusked male Backs-Away and they both Check-Tusks, longer tusked male Check-Tusks x 2 and then Advances-Toward his competitor who continues to Back-Away. (Amboseli, Kenya)