Check out this great video of how elephants communicate and play. It was put together by Dr. Joyce Poole, co-founder of Elephant Voices and one of the world’s leading experts on elephant social behavior and communication.
Video from National Geographic.
The highly sophisticated communication skills of elephants are on exhibit while they are playing, and you can see how play is a large part of their complex social structure.
While describing one male elephant’s movements, Dr. Poole displays her enthusiasm for her work and her understanding of elephant behavior:
“He’s now starting to shake his head and starting to do what I call a head waggle. Now that’s an invitation to play. So, I know by his behavior and how he was kicking his legs out earlier…there goes again with his head waggling…and kind of dancing for us. But, I know by his very fluffy movements that even the way he’s looking…look at him closing and opening his eyes. That he wants to play. This is not a serious threat in any way to me.”