Did you know that September 22 is National Elephant Appreciation Day? Elephants may never forget, but I did and you likely didn’t know.

Humans are elephants most dangerous predator (actually, the only predator for large elephants). We illegally and inhumanly poach them for ivory and exploit them for ‘entertainment.’ The best thing we can do for elephants is leave them alone, the second best thing is to protect them from those who don’t. Fortunately there are lots of organizations devoted to protecting elephants, and things you can do. Consider donating to one of these, boycott circuses with elephants and never support the ivory industry.

Elephants are truly special and are in no way here for us. In honor of these beautiful creatures, which we too often take for granted, I present…

Amazing Facts About Elephants:

1 – Their Skin May be Think, but It’s Sensitive

An Elephant’s skin is so sensitive that it can feel a fly landing on it. This fact has been exploited by circus trainers – no, elephants don’t normally do those tricks.

2- Big and Beautiful

The African elephant is the largest land mammal on the planet. Males can reach a height of 13 ft and 15,000 lbs.

3 – Healthy Appetites

Elephants feed up to 16 hours a day and consume up to 600 pounds of food.

 4 – Long Life Span in Wild

The average life span for an elephant in the wild is usually about 50 – 70 years. The oldest elephant was Lin Wang, an Asian elephant, who died in 2003 at the age of 86.

 5 – Serious Baby-Makers

Photo by Carol Smith Photography

Female elephants undergo the longest pregnancy – 22 months! That is made even more astounding by the fact that they tend to have a new baby every two and a half to four years. Basically their lady parts are in business more than a devout Catholics’s. Fortunately for the busy moms, they usually only have one baby at at time. Those babies are born blind and big, upwards of 260 lbs.

6 – Squad Goals

Female elephants live much of their lives away from males, and in groups of about 15. All the ladies in their squad (or pack) are related – a mother, grandmother, and sometimes even a great-grandmother live together with the daughters, nieces, granddaughters and their offspring, and are led by a matriarch, who is typically the oldest in the group. She’s the boss and decides where and when they move and rest. Basically the grandma elephant runs the show … she’s sorta like Beyoncé.

7 – Gentlemen’s Club

Males grow up in the matriarch groups but, but leave when they’re between the ages of 12 and 15 (I assume someone catches one of the boys getting weird with a female relative and decide he’s gots to go). The males spend most of their life with other males, but usually don’t have a hierarchy, except during certain dry times when a linear hierarchy helps them avoid injuries that could result from competing for water. They’ve got each others backs in times of need.

8 – They Bro Out

Bros

While the ladies live active social lives, the male elephants have a reputation of being loners. But studies on males have shown that they often have a best friend with whom they associate and bro out with for years.

9 – Mature Males are Important

Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

Typically young males are highly social (probably a result of living with a bunch of ladies), so when they leave the mama’s, many will seek out an older male as a mentor. So mature men play a crucial role in elephant societies, too – so if you’re male, man up, you’re needed.

10 – Trunk Control

Their trunks are huge and weigh around 400 lbs, but so dexterous it can pick up super tiny things including a single grain of rice. The trunks have more than 40,000 muscles in it.

11 – Sensitive Souls

Elephants are capable of human-like emotions: feelings of loss, grieving and even crying. They remember and mourn their loves ones, even years after their death. Mothers often stay with their babies side, even after they die. When Lawrence Anthony, “The Elephant Whisperer” died, a herd of elephants arrived at his house to mourn him. Elephants in captivity suffer extreme psychological distress – if you ever see a ‘cute’ video of an elephant ‘dancing,’ know that it is not dancing. It’s having a psychological breakdown. It’s a cruel reality that happens far too often.

12 – They’re Affectionate

Mother's Touch

Photo by Ravi Patel

Touching is an important form of communicating with one another. They greet each other by stroking or wrapping their trunks. To discipline unruly youngin’s, older elephants use trunk-slaps, kicks and shoves.

13 – Their Calls Travel Miles & Friends ‘Hear’ with Their Feet

Elephants can make long distance calls to one another as their calls can travel miles and shake the ground. An elephant miles away can detect the seismic signals with sensory cells in the feet and also “hear” deep-pitched sounds when ground vibrations travel from the front feet, up the leg and shoulder bone, and into the middle ear. An elephant can determine the sound’s direction by comparing the timing of signals received by each of its front feet.

14 – Could Join the Swim Team

Elephants love water. They like to swim and it gives their joints a break. I guess they too know the benefits of low impact cardio.

15 – Sunblock Is a Must

Just like us, elephants can get sunburned, so in order to keep the dollar store aloe vera off their shopping list, they throw sand on their backs and their heads and take mud baths. Adult elephants will douse their babies in sand and stand over them when they sleep.

16 – Can Check Themselves Out

Just like human toddlers, apes, and dolphins, elephants have passed the mirror test and can recognize themselves in a reflection. No wonder they always look so great.

17 – Closest Relative Is a Rodent

The elephant’s closest living relative is the rock hyrax, a small furry mammal that lives in rocky landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa and along the cost of the Arabian peninsula. Though the two animals look nothing alike, their toes, teeth and skull share several features, one being the rock hyrax’s two teeth, which give it the look of a rodent but are actually tiny tusks. hello!

18 – Not Afraid of Mice, But Not a Fan of Bees

Beehive fence

Elephants have no problem with mice, as myths suggest. But they don’t like ants and bees since those jerks can get in their trunk, which is full of sensitive nerve endings. Many farmers in African countries protect their fields from elephants by lining borders with beehives.

19 – They’re At Risk for Extinction

Today only 650,000 elephants remain, and they are in real danger of extinction.

 

20 – Elephant Poaching Is Worse Than You Think

Over the course of three years, 100,000 elephants have been poached. Poaching is illegal, big business, and threatening elephants into extinction. In Central Africa, one of the hardest hit areas, the elephant population has decreased 64% since 1979.

 

 

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