Largest living land animal.
Found mostly in savannas, grasslands, and forests but occupy wide range of habitats in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia.
Trunk is one of the most versatile organs of any mammal. It is large and powerful, weighing nearly 300 lbs. in an adult male and capable of lifting 550 lbs. Yet can perform amazingly delicate functions such as cracking a peanut, blowing away shell, and putting it in mouth. When elephants meet, they may intertwine trunks. This “trunk-shake” can be compared to human handshakes. Breathing, eating, drinking and vocalization are also performed by the trunk.
Tusks are enlarged incisor teeth made of ivory. Male and female African elephants have tusks. With Asian elephants, usually only males have tusks. Tusk size and shape are inherited. Tusks used for defense, offense, digging, lifting, gathering food, and protecting the trunk.
Skin very tough and measures 1” in thickness. Skin of an Asian is covered with more hair than its African counterpart.
Have very structured social order. Females spend lives in tightly knit family groups, led by the eldest female (cow) or matriarch. Adult males (bulls) live in bachelor herds or in solitude.
Have keen sense of smell and hearing.
Gestation is the longest of any mammal (18-22 months). A newborn is about a meter tall and weighs 220 lbs.
An adult consumes over 200 lbs. of food a day and 26 gallons of water. Spends up to 16 hours a day collecting plant food, including grass, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, fruit and flowers.
Brains are larger than those of any land animal at 11 lbs.
Migrate seasonally due to food and water supply. Able to remember locations of water holes along their migration routes.
Able to reach top speed of 25 mph, and good swimmers.
Sleep 3-4 hours during the night.
May live up to 80 years of age in captivity; 60 in the wild.
Have no natural predators, except for lions.
At the beginning of the 21st century, fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. Both Asian and African elephants are listed as endangered.
Symbols of wisdom in Asian cultures, and known for their exceptional memory and intelligence. Intelligence rivaled only by dolphins and primates.