While scrolling through social media, you have probably come across a picture or video of a baby elephant. These large babies capture the attention of millions with their cuteness and affectionate nature.
Although there are a ton of videos of these animals, much of their nature is still a mystery. Our African elephant research unit wants to share these facts about baby elephants and what you can do to help them.
Baby elephant facts
Baby elephants are called calves.
During the infant stage, a baby elephant is called a calf. These animals outgrow this name when they become juveniles. The name they are referred to next depends on their gender. Female elephants are called cows, and male elephants are called bulls.
An African elephant’s pregnancy is an average of 22 months.
The average gestation period of an elephant is different depending on the type of elephant. The African elephant’s gestation period is on average 22 months, while the Asian elephant’s gestation period is 18 to 22 months. Why is it so long? Experts believe that an elephant’s pregnancy is long due to its complex and large brain.
Baby elephants are one of the biggest baby animals.
Elephants are the largest land mammal, so of course, that means they have some of the biggest babies. When a baby elephant is born, it can weigh 230 pounds and stand over 2.5 feet tall. Talk about a big baby!
Baby elephants can stand within minutes of birth.
Human babies, on average, learn how to stand somewhere between 10 to 14 months. Thanks to the assistance of other elephants, calves learn how to stand on their own within minutes of being born. All that time in the womb helps them fully develop.
Baby elephants rely heavily on their mothers.
There is no greater bond than that of a mother and baby. This saying is true for elephants. From the time elephants are born, they rely heavily on their mothers. The first few years of a calf's life, it feeds off its mother's milk. The elephant mother teaches their young everything from walking, finding food, defending against danger and navigating through the land.
Elephant birth rates in zoos are declining.
African elephant research unit teams report that elephants are not self-sustaining in zoos. In the past 10 years, there have been more elephant deaths than births in zoos. For three elephant births, there are five elephant deaths annually.
The reason behind these declines is the increase in infertility rates. In seven years, the infertility rates have gone from 22 percent to 45 percent. Some factors behind high infertility rates in zoo elephants are lack of exercise and high-calorie diets that affect a female elephant’s ovarian cycles.
Support our African elephant research unit!
At For Elephants, we are working to improve fertility rates for zoo elephants through our endocrine research. We work with zoos across the country to improve the living conditions of elephants. You can support our work by joining our Herd of Heroes program to make a monthly donation. Join down below, and do not forget to register for our newsletter.