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

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