Renowned as being incredibly intelligent and empathetic, elephants are often considered to be the BFG of the animal kingdom. But what else is there to know about these magnificent mammals? Stick around as we run through our favourite elephant facts!
Elephants have the largest brains in the animal kingdom! As above, it's a well known fact that elephants are wonderfully smart creatures. But did you know that, in terms of sheer size, their grey matter outweighs that of any other species on earth?
They have poor eyesight, but an incredible sense of smell! Elephants are able to smell water from an incredible 12 miles away which, alongside their impressive sense of hearing, more than makes up for their less-than-stellar eyesight. (When it comes to hearing, elephants are able to pick up sounds as low as 14hz, and as high as 12000hz.)
There are more than 40,000 muscles in an elephant's trunk, and can therefore lift up to 770 pounds in one go! That's like lifting a horse like it's no big deal. Now just compare that to the approximately 640 muscles in the human body - anybody else feeling like a particularly weak, gelatinous mass of mush right now?
And their trunks come in particularly handy while swimming! As absolute naturals in the water, elephants are fantastic swimmers and therefore must be very grateful for their trunks, which act as snorkels! They keep their trunks above water as their bodies submerge below, using their strong legs to tread water and their main bodies as something of a flotation device.
That said, elephants are the only mammal that can't jump - but it's not the fear of creating a racket when hitting the ground that stops them from reaching new heights. Their feet are actually covered in a soft padding that dulls any sound, allowing them to move almost silently., This padding also helps to uphold their weight, and prevents them from slipping...so perhaps elephants are just too graceful to even want to jump?
At birth, elephants weigh about 230 pounds - it's hard enough not to feel sorry for Mama Ele when you consider that fact, but to add to her burden she also has to carry her unborn young for a record-breaking gestation period of 22 months. Poor mum!
And while we talk about weight...the largest elephant on record came in at a whopping 24,000 pounds, and was over 13ft tall at the shoulder! His name was Satao, and to this day he is considered an icon of Kenya. At over a foot taller than other elephants of his kind (and almost twice as heavy), Satao also had rather large tusks - a feature which he was incredibly shy about, and was noted as trying to hide his tusks when walking by, often plunging his head into bushes whenever a human being walked by. Wildlife filmmaker Mark Deeble recounted a time he witnessed Satao, stating: 'At once, I was incredibly impressed, and incredibly sad — impressed that he should have the understanding that his tusks could put him in danger, but so sad at what that meant.' Tragically, Satao was killed by poachers in 2014. He was 46 years old.
Elephants can live to 70 years old - though the oldest elephant on record was 84 years old! Affectionately referred to as 'Grandpa Lin Wang', the Asian giant was the most loved icon at Taiwan's Taipei Zoo, and is revered even after his death of natural causes in 2003. Interestingly, despite a captive elephant holding the title of 'oldest elephant of all time', studies show that elephants in the wild typically live for longer periods of time (should heinous activities such as poaching not cut their lives short.)
Highly sensitive and caring, elephants are noted as being wonderfully empathetic. For example, if a baby elephant complains, the entire family will rumble and go over to touch and caress it. Elephants also express grief, compassion, self-awareness, altruism and play - check out this gorgeous video of an elephant playing with a bit of ribbon and tell me that it doesn't make your heart melt!
And finally, elephants are beautifully social social creatures. They even have greeting ceremonies when a friend that has been away for some time returns to the group - how adorable is that?! They sometimes 'hug' by wrapping their trunks together in displays of greeting and affection, which is all too adorable...so maybe it's time to wrap up this little fact-find and end on a high note!
Want to learn more about elephants? What better way to discover all that there is to know about these awesome animals, than to get face-to face with them?! Check out our project page and see which ecotour suits you most!
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