Elephants are the largest land animal and can live up to 70 years. There are two species of elephants, the African Elephant and Asian Elephant. They have tusks made of ivory, a long nose called a trunk and large ears with great hearing. Elephants live in grassland and forested areas.
An elephant's trunk has over 100,000 muscles! Elephants can pick up anything from a small piece of fruit to a fallen tree with their trunk. Elephants drink water by sucking it up their trunk and then spraying it into their mouth. They also use their trunks to communicate, eat, smell, touch, scratch, and shower.
Female elephants live in herds and they help each other care for their babies. Young elephants are taught their manners, such as holding out their trunks to greet other elephants, by the older elephants. At 15 or 16 years old, young male (bull) elephants, leave the herd to live on their own. The young female (cow) elephants remain with the herd.
Elephants eat only plants, grass, and fruit. They can even peel their own bananas. Elephants do not like peanuts! Elephants spend most of their day getting food and water. They only sleep about 2 hours a day, staying on their feet while they rest. They also spend time swimming and visiting with other elephants.
Elephants can communicate with sounds so low that humans cannot hear them. They have also been heard to cry, squeak, trumpet, purr, growl, and rumble. They use these sounds to express their feelings such as happiness, anger, and fear.
Elephants help sustain the world they live in. They dig water holes other animals can use. When they poop, they spread seeds and fertilizer so more plants and trees can grow. When they walk through the forest or grass on their big feet, they stir up insects and mice for birds to eat. Elephants are threatened by hunters seeking their ivory tusks and also by loss of their habitat. As humans move into elephant habitat to live and farm, the elephant herds are left with fewer places for the food and water they need. This can cause conflict between the humans and the elephants. Many groups are working to stop ivory poachers and loss of habitat in order to help preserve this interesting and important animal.