Elephant close up in Zambia, J. Goetz


Loxodonta africana

Behavior and diet

Elephants are expansive warm blooded animals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. They are currently the largest land animal on earth. Two species of elephants exist: Asian and African elephants. Asian elephants are smaller than their African counterparts. African elephants have larger, fan-shaped ears, which some believe actually resemble the shape of the African continent. Elephants are either left or right-tusked and the one they use more is usually smaller because of wear and tear. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal. A single calf is born to a female after a gestation period of 22 months. Amazingly, 16-18 hours of an elephant’s day is spent eating. Elephants eat between 149 and 169 kg (330-375 lb.) of vegetation daily.