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Water For Elephants Facts

An elephant calf walking in Kenya.  Like humans, an elephant's first milk is packed with vital nutrients. It also kick-starts the baby's immune system.

An elephant calf walking in Kenya. Like humans, an elephant's first milk is packed with vital nutrients. It also kick-starts the baby's immune system. (View larger version)

Photograph by Mark Wheeler 2012

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  • Until recently there was only a single species of elephant in Africa. However, the former subspecies, the forest elephants, have now been recognised as a species in their own right. The original species have been renamed bush, or savannah, elephants.

  • The elephant’s trunk is an extension of the upper lip and nose. It has a huge array of diverse functions; grasping, breathing, feeding, dusting, smelling, drinking, lifting, sound production/communication, defence/protection, and sensing.

  • The elephant's trunk contains an estimated 100,000 muscles and tendons. The entire human body only has 639 muscles, giving it extreme flexibility and strength.

  • Elephant ears are about one—sixth the size of its entire body and primarily function as a cooling mechanism.

  • A male's pair of tusks may exceed 441 pounds for the pair. The heaviest ones recorded were 461 pounds, taken from an old bull shot in 1897.

  • Elephants require a huge amount water on a daily basis; about 18 to 26 gallons but they may consume up to 40 gallons. An adult male elephant can drink up to 55 gallons of water in less than five minutes.

  • The brain of a newborn elephant is about 30-40% of the size of that of an adult.

  • The African elephant has the longest gestation of any land mammal, at 20-22 months.

  • A newborn calf weighs approximately 200 pounds, over 25 times heavier than the average weight of a human baby, approximately 7.5 lbs.

  • The average age in which elephants become sexually mature is reached between the ages of eight and thirteen.

  • Newborns may consume 11.4 liters of milk a day.

  • Mothers allocate care and interact differently depending on the baby's sex.

  • Diseases they suffer from are similar to humans--e.g. they are prone to cardiovascular diseases and arthritis.

  • Young elephants wean after 6 to 18 months, although they may continue nursing for over 6 years.

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