Elephants are separated into two genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas (Asian elephants) and Loxodonata (African elephants). African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, such as African elephants have larger ears and a concave back. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, which is thought to be equal to that of dolphins and primates.
Did You Know?
* Elephants are the largest land animal now living, with a gestation period of 22 months. At birth a calf can weigh as much as 250 lbs.
* Elephants typically live for 50 to 70 years.
* Elephants live in a structured social order. The females spend their lives in tightly knit family groups made up of mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts, led by the eldest female, or matriarch. Adult males live mostly solitary lives.
* Elephants have greeting ceremonies when one returns to the group, and they grieve for the loss of another elephant.
* Elephants have an exceptional sense of hearing. Receptors are not only in their ears, but also in their trunks that are sensitive to vibrations, and their feet, which have special receptors for low frequency sound.
* Elephants make a number of sounds when communicating. They are famous for their trumpet calls but they also growl, bellow, moan, and roar.
* Elephants are herbivores and spend up to 16 hours a day eating plants.
* Elephants were used to help clean up tornado debris in Joplin, Missouri.
* In Asian elephants only males have tusks, but both males and females of African elephants have tusks. Elephants are hunted and poached for their ivory tusks.