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The Asian elephant is Asia's largest land animal, and with its thick gray skin and long trunk, it's one of the most recognized creatures globally. Did you know an elephant's trunk contains about 100,000 muscles? Yet, this powerhouse needs our help to survive. Their natural habitat is severely impacted and fragmented due to increasing deforestation and urbanization. That's why Blijdorp Zoo, as the coordinator of the European population management program, is dedicated to preserving the elephant.

Elephas maximus

about 50 years


Height: about 3 meters.


Length: about 5 meters


ā™€ 3000-4000 kilograms

ā™‚ up to 6000 kilograms

Food preferenceGrass and leaves
Pregnancy22 months
Age at adulthood10 - 15 years
Amount of offspring1
Note48,000 - 52,000 animals still live in the wild
Endangered level

Elephants are found both in Africa and Asia. There are clear differences between the two species. For instance, the ears of the Asian elephant are a bit smaller, just like their tusks; in females, these aren't even visible from the outside. Also, their trunk has only one "finger" compared to the two in their African counterparts. Moreover, they have more toenails than their African relatives. Asian elephants have 5 nails on their front foot and four on the back, while the African elephants have just three.

Finding food and water is becoming increasingly challenging for the Asian elephant as the forests and grasslands they inhabit keep shrinking. Moreover, more barriers are emerging between the different areas they inhabit, thanks to roads, tracks, plantations, and cities. As a result, elephants encounter humans more often, leading to conflicts. For instance, lacking their natural food sources, elephants feed on farmers' sugar crops. These farmers, in turn, try to chase the elephants away. To provide ample space for these elephants without posing risks to humans, their habitats need to be reconnected.

The Asian elephant roams across various parts of Southeast Asia. Naturally, these majestic creatures inhabit tropical rainforests and grasslands. However, due to extensive logging and the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, their habitats have been dramatically reduced and fragmented. They can now be found in countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

...The elephant uses its trunk as a snorkel when swimming?

...A male elephant is called a 'bull' and a female is referred to as a 'cow'?

The question

Which animal in Blijdorp needs the most care?

Zookeeper Livia says

Of course, those are the elephants. They eat and poop a lot. So just cleaning their enclosure is already a big task. In addition, the elephants also receive a lot of training to ensure that we, as caregivers, can continue to take good care of them. That also takes up a lot of time.

There are various subspecies of the Asian elephant, each hailing from a distinct region, such as the Indian elephant, the Sri Lankan elephant, and the Sumatran elephant. Though distant relatives, over time, these subspecies have evolved to adapt to their natural habitats. In zoos, these subspecies sometimes interbreed. There's limited knowledge about the distinctions between these subspecies and the origin of the animals. Diergaarde Blijdorp is conducting research on the genetic makeup and diversity of Asian elephants in captivity. This ensures distant families are kept separate, ready to be reintroduced to their rightful places in the wild when the time is right.

At Diergaarde Blijdorp, there's a family group, just like in their natural habitat. The family consists of an elderly female, her daughter and granddaughter, and their sons.

Discover the latest news about the Asian elephant.