African Elephant
Status Endangered
Diet Herbivore
To unlock the African elephant in challenge or campaign games, you must earn a 4-star zoo fame rating for your zoo.


  • The elephant is a huge mammal characterized by a long muscular snout and two long, curved tusks. Highly intelligent and strong, elephants are the largest land animals and are among the longest-lived, with life spans of 60 years or more. Healthy, full-grown elephants have no natural enemies other than humans.
  • Over the past 40 million years, more than 600 species of elephants have roamed the earth. Today only three species are alive - the African elephant, the Asian elephant, and the African forest elephant. Climate fluctuations over the millennia and resulting vegetation changes caused the extinction of many elephant species, but human impact has also taken its toll. At the turn of the 20th century, elephants numbered from 5 million to 10 million, but widespread hunting and habitat destruction reduced their numbers to an estimated 640,000 by the end of the century. Present-day efforts to save elephants may be inadequate, and biologists are unsure if elephants as a species will survive.
  • African elephants live in grassy regions south of the Sahara Desert. Dark gray in color, bull (male) elephants stand about 11 ft (3.4 m) tall and weigh about 5.4 metric tons, while cow (female) elephants stand 2.8 m 9 ft (2.8 m) tall and weigh about 3.6 metric tons. They have no sweat glands, so they like to cool off by rolling in ponds and streams. The mud that dries on their skin protects it from the sun.
  • Throughout history, people have prized elephants for their great size and strength. On the battlefield, soldiers astride elephants have trampled and terrified enemies. Elephants also have been trained to carry heavy supplies through jungles and to haul huge logs from the forests where they once lived.
  • Elephants have long been revered and honored, and in Thailand, India, and other Southeast Asian countries, beautifully decorated elephants still play a significant role in traditional religious ceremonies. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha chose the form of a white elephant as one of his many earthly incarnations, and the rare appearance of a white elephant is still heralded as a manifestation of the gods.

Fun Facts

  • The name "elephant" means "visible from afar."
  • African elephants eat up to 6 percent of their body weight each day. For a 10,000 lb bull, that translates to 600 lbs of feed per day.

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