Learn about the wild creature the elephant. We will discuss the endangered, majestic and exotic elephants of the world.
Elephants come in two species: Asian elephants and African elephants. They also divide the African elephant into forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) or savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana). According to the Wildlife Conservation Society "over 60% of forest elephants have been slaughtered in the past decade". Elephants are also known as pacyderms. Elephants are the largest living mammal today. Elephants are herbivorous - that means they eat plants, and a lot of them!.
There are two reasons elephants are becoming extinct. First their habitats are disappearing because of man building cities and planting farms so the trees are disappearing (also because the elephants de-nude a forest pretty quickly because they need to eat a LOT - 400 lbs a day per animal - to give them energy). Second, man hunts the elephant both for the meat to eat and primarily to sell the tusks for the ivory.
Conservationists estimate that there are only approximately 30,000 to 35,000 Asian elephants in the wild (Very endangered) and less than 500,000 African elephants living in the wild today. That's why zoo conservation is critical to saving these endangered animals. See more about what the Denver Zoo is doing to help. Part of this story is also covered in this article.
Celebrate World Elephant Day August 12
Elephants are Endothermic - What Does That Mean?
It means that they are capable of the internal generation of heat. How? Well they use their big ears. By flapping their ears they can regulate their body temperature. This works because their ears have lots of veins and when they flap their ears this cools them down and once the blood in their ears is cool it circulates through the body cooling the body as it goes.
Decorate or Dress Up with a Fancy Elephant
Great for Diwali Celebrations
How Big is an Elephant?
When they are first born they weigh 250 to 320 pounds, but an adult male can reach as much as 15,000 pounds! That is BIG! They call a baby elephant a calf. When first born it takes practice to use their trunk, in fact, sometimes they trip over their trunk at first. It can take as long as 6 to 8 months to really control their trunks for eating and drinking. When they drink with their trunk it is not used like a straw, but they suck the water up into the trunk then release it into their mouth and swallow the water. Some grown elephant bulls can actually reach higher in the trees with their trunks than giraffes.
African elephants eat grass, trees and hay and approximately 20 pounds of fruit and vegetables daily. They only digest half of what they eat, the remaining makes great fertilizer.
Man is the Elephants Primary Predator
Man likes to kill elephants for the ivory in their tusks. The word elephant is Greek for ivory. We have a name for these hunters called poachers. Poachers can get as much as $6,000 for a tusk, so they have a lot of motivation to kill elephants for their tusks. For population control game reserves were developed for protection. Because man has used the land for farming the elephants have lost a great deal of habitat. The trees they eat have been cut down and cities have sprung up. Conservation is defined as the care and monitoring of animals and animal populations for their continued existence.
According to a recent e-mail I received from the Wildlife Conservation Society: “WCS scientists have confirmed that Gabon’s Minkebe Park, once home to Africa’s largest forest elephant population, has lost a staggering 11,100 elephants due to ivory poaching since 2004.” Therefore, addressing wildlife trafficking is of the utmost importance.
This photo was taken by me at the Toyota Elephant Exhibit at the Denver Zoo
Please remember this is copyrighted!
A herd is a group of animals that live and travel together. The females and calves stay in the herd but the males leave the herd at around 10 to 15 years of age when they are teenagers. The female leader of the herd is called a matriarch. The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, pretty long!
The female African elephant is ready to mate at about 9 years old, but the male does not begin mating until 11 to 12 years of age. They usually deliver their first calf around age 16. Elephants in the wild live 60 to 70 years and in zoos they often live longer than that.
Elephant Trivets for Entertainers
There are many to choose from - Start Here
An Elephant Stool or Seat That the Kids Woud Love
Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo Has Increased to Five Asian Elephants
There are now five Asian elephants in Denver. Their names are Dolly, Bodhi, Groucho, Kimbo (age 42) and now the newest one is Billy who came from the Antwerpen Zoo in Belgium. Some sources say that Asian elephants are as few as 30,000. The new Toyota elephant passage was opened in June, 2012.
The Denver Zoo has received great national recognition for its green efforts – see the link above. Also watch this video.
Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo
Elephant Jewelry is Popular
Place a Bit Today
How Do Elephants Keep Cool?
Well in Africa the sun can get pretty hot so elephants will roll in mud to cool off and for protection. Also the creases in their skin can remain wet and cool them down. They also flap their big ears to stay cool. Their thick skin (often up to 3″ thick) protects them from thorns and bushes.
They also learn to use their tusks to dig in the ground and find water (the tusks begin to grow at about 2 years old). Did you know that an elephants trunk can hold between 1 and 3 gallons of water at one time?
Come and Play Elephant Invitation
Are You in Favor of or Opposed to Elephants in Zoos?
Go into the why of your answer when you make a comment below
Beliefs about Elephants
- Elephants can predict rain
- Elephants blood is equivalent to the power of the shaman
- Ganesh (the elephant-headed God) is considered by Hindus as the Remover of Obstacles
- Some Indians believe that the Buddha came from the impregnation of the virgin Queen Siri Mahamaya by a Divine Elephant
- Tibetan monks play long horns to imitate the trumpet of an elephant, which they equate to the Earth's power
Dolly Asian Elephant Performs at the Denver Zoo
Update: Dolly did pass away
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