We are at risk of losing some of the most charismatic and intelligent animals - the elephants. As of March 2021, African forest elephants have been classified as critically endangered and African savanna elephants as endangered. Losing these animals would be devastating to the world.
One way to help save elephants is by building awareness. Sharing fun facts about African elephants and why they need to be saved can encourage others to step up to save them. Researchers, who are a part of our African elephant community, have gathered some elephant facts you can share with friends and family to show just how cool elephants are.
Fun facts about African elephants
Elephants are the largest land mammals.
The largest land mammals are elephants, but African savanna elephants are the largest if you want to get technical. This kind of elephant can get as tall as 10 to 13 feet and can weigh as much as four to seven tons. The second-largest type of elephant is the Asian elephant which stands at 6.6 to 9.8 feet. In last place comes the African forest elephant, which averages at eight feet tall.
Elephants spend 16 to 18 hours eating.
When you are the largest land animal globally, you need a lot of food to power that body. That is why elephants spend 16 to 18 hours eating each day. Since elephants eat most of the day, they can eat between 330 to 375 pounds of food a day. Their diet consists of vegetation like grasses, fruits, bark and roots.
Elephants sleep for two to three hours each night.
Humans need around seven to eight hours of sleep each night to function. In the wild, elephants get two to three hours of sleep each night. Why do elephants sleep so little? Well, these giant animals spend most of their day eating and walking to find food. Elephants can travel up to 1.9 to 7.4 miles a day.
Elephants have the longest pregnancy period of all mammals.
The gestation period of an African elephant is on average 22 months and 18 to 22 months for Asian elephants. These animals spend lots of time in the womb so their brains can fully develop. Elephants are intelligent creatures capable of remembering things, problem-solving and displaying emotions.
Elephants grieve the dead.
Family is a critical part of an elephant’s life. When it comes to the death of one of their own, elephants get very upset. Whether it is the dead body of an elephant they know or not, elephants will pay their respects. If an elephant from their herd dies, they usually stay with the body for several days and perform a funeral.
Elephants are not self-sustaining in captivity.
Even though you see elephants in zoos, knowing that they are not self-sustainable in captivity is essential. In recent years, researchers have discovered that African elephants are not self-sustaining in zoos. There have been more elephant deaths than births (three births vs. five deaths annually). One contributing factor to this problem is an increase in infertility rates in female elephants (cows).
Support our African elephant community of researchers!
At For Elephants, we are working to improve the infertility rates of zoo elephants through our endocrine research. We work with zoos across the country to provide specialized reproduction and care services. To help us continue our mission, join the Herd of Heroes to make a monthly donation. Join down below!