African Elephant

Herds of elephants are comprised entirely of females. Usually, the number of individuals in a herd is around 10, but it can reach as many as 500 elephants. The herd is made up of a matriarch (generally older, experienced elephant), her daughters, and her daughters’ offspring. Male elephants become solitary after they reach sexual maturity, at which point they are driven from their mother’s herd, but some may form “bachelor groups.” Elephants are very intelligent and display many social behaviors including greetings, group defense, vocal and scent communication, social play, and teaching. Elephants are even known to mourn their dead. Elephants spend 12-15 hours a day feeding, consuming as much as 600 lbs. of food and 50 lbs. of water every day.

African Elephant

Loxodonta africana

Habitat: Sub-Saharan African savannas

Diet in the wild: Small bushes, herbs, grasses, roots, bark, fruit, flowers, branches

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Coastal hay, alfalfa, cabbage, carrot, bread, sweet potato, banana, orange, white potato, apple

Size: African elephants can weigh as many as 6 tons

Family: All the females in the herd participate in caring for the young, but the bonds between females and their offspring are lifelong

Status: Vulnerable

Did you know? An elephant’s trunk is a specialized, elongated nose and upper lip with 40,000 nerve endings and muscles


Here at the Caldwell Zoo, Rolinda is the dominant female in the herd, meaning that she’s in charge. Rolinda came to us in 1978 from the Catskill Game Farm in upstate New York. It is estimated that she was born sometime during the year of 1972 in Africa. Rolinda’s favorite food is alfalfa and she absolutely loves to play with oversized tractor tires. Rolinda may be easily identified by having a shorter left tusk. She also has more wrinkles on her face than Tonya.


Here at the Caldwell Zoo, Tonya is known as the mischievous one, usually getting into things that quite frankly, aren’t any of her business. Tonya came to us from the St. Louis Zoo and arrived in December of 1988. It is estimated that she was born in 1977 in Africa. Her favorite food is watermelon, which she gets plenty of in the summer time, and she loves to play with a large, heavy ball when she is inside the barn. Tonya may be easily identified by having wide-set eyes and less wrinkles on her face. Her tusks are relatively similar in length.

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