Elephants are the largest existing land animals which are the only surviving members of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. The order was formerly much more diverse during the Pleistocene, but most species became extinct during the Late Pleistocene epoch.
Three of these herbivore species are currently recognized: the African bush elephant (distributed across 37 African countries and inhabits forests, grasslands and woodlands, wetlands and agricultural land), the African forest elephant (native to humid forests in West Africa and the Congo Basin), and the Asian elephant (found in the jungles of India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia). They have bare, grey, leathery skin, a huge, rounded body, and very thick legs, which end in flat, round feet, and are cushioned by a layer of fat in the soles.
The elephant's nose is a long, prehensile proboscis called a trunk, which is highly mobile and can act a little like a hand, to manipulate objects. The two nostrils are located at the tip of the trunk. The trunk can also be used like a hosepipe, expelling water at high velocity. The trunk of the elephant can weigh up to 300 pounds. African elephants have two fingers on their trunks, while Asian elephants have one.
The elephant has very large ears, which are fairly mobile. The large surface area of the ears assists the elephant in removing heat from the body.
Beneath the trunk, elephants have a pair of tusks, which are modified second incisors in the upper jaw made of dentine coated with a thin layer of cementum and have ivory. They are used for digging for water, salt, and roots; debarking or marking trees; and for moving trees and branches when clearing a path. When fighting, they are used to attack and defend and protect the trunk. Like humans, who are typically right- or left-handed, elephants are usually right- or left-tusked.
Both sexes of the African bush elephant species have tusks, which grow from deciduous teeth known as tushes that develop in the upper jaw, with the tusks of bulls growing faster than those of cows. Both sexes of the African forest elephant's tusks are straight and point downwards, are colored pink, and are thinner and harder than the tusks of the African bush elephant.
In the Asian elephant species, only the males have large tusks. Female Asians have tiny tusks or none at all. Tuskless males exist and are particularly common among Sri Lankan elephants. Asian males can have tusks as long as Africans, but they are usually slimmer and lighter.
Elephants in the wild consume grass, leaves, and such, with a high percentage of water, and may eat up to 300 kgs/day. In captivity, they eat about 30 kg of hay, 10 kg of carrots, and 5-10 kg of bread. Some zoos give a "breakfast" of different grains, about 3-10 kg.
Elephants in mainstream media
- Dumbo (The Walt Disney Company)
- Horton the Elephant
- Nelson (64 Zoo Lane)
- Snorky (The Banana Splits)
- Tantra (X-Men)
- Mammomax (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)
- Babar the Elephant
- Elephantmen (Elephantmen)
- Manny (Ice Age)
- Tantor (Tarzan)
- Woolie (Cats Don't Dance)
- Meena (Sing)
Elephant and furry
Elephants in the furry fandom
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