Who hasn’t seen a cute video on Twitter or Facebook of a baby elephant playing around? Probably just about everyone who uses social media has seen or shared these videos. With so much cuteness also comes lots of mystery about these creatures. Here are some interesting Asian and African elephant facts about their infants that everyone should know.
An elephant’s pregnancy is an average of 22 months.
Elephants are highly-intelligent creatures. They can recognize themselves in mirrors and they have different forms of communication. For them to develop such complex abilities, they need lots of time to build their brains.
Between the two different types of elephants, African elephants have the most prolonged pregnancy. Their gestation is a total of 22 months, while Asian elephants have a pregnancy of about 21.5 and 22 months.
A baby elephant is called a calf.
It’s common for animals to have different names for them when they are babies. For example, cats are called kittens and bears are called cubs. One of the basic Asian and African elephant facts is that when elephants are infants, they are called calves.
They outgrow the name of calves when they become juveniles. Depending on what their gender is and what they’re named. Female elephants are called cows, and male elephants are called bulls. You can see how the names all relate to each other.
An elephant calf can weigh up to 200 pounds and be 3 feet tall.
Elephants are the largest land mammal and that means they have some of the biggest babies. Two fascinating Asian and African elephant facts are elephant calves can weigh up to 200 pounds and be as tall as 3 feet. They get to be this big because of their long gestation periods.
Elephant calves aren’t born with many survival instincts.
Yes, elephants are intelligent creatures. However, when they are born, they don’t have many survival instincts like other animals. Just like humans, they rely on their mothers to learn all their survival skills.
An elephant calf relies on their mother for everything.
Since the day an elephant calf is born, it relies heavily on its mother. The calves get their nutrients from their mother’s milk for the first few years. They get weaned off between five to 10 years. Typically, this is the time when they can survive on solid vegetation like grasses.
During the infant stage, they rely heavily on their mothers for nutrients, hygiene and to learn survival skills. They learn how to use their trunks for feeding, drinking and bathing. Plus, they learn everything about how to avoid dangers. Just like humans, the infant years are critical to learning necessary survival skills.
Zoo elephant death rates have surpassed birth rates. (3 births vs. 5 deaths annually)
Sadly, research has shown that elephants aren’t self-sustaining in zoos. Meaning that birth rates are declining, and if these rates don’t improve, it could lead to “captive extinction” for elephants.
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 zoos have to due with the captive elephants' lack of exercise and high- calorie diets that affect their ovarian cycles.
With research, we can help stop captive extinction and improve the birth rates of elephants in zoos and the wild. At For Elephants, we are using science to make informed conservation changes. Help contribute to our research by making a small donation or purchasing our For Elephants apparel.