National Elephant Appreciation Day

National Elephant Appreciation Day is Sept 22

Ok, ok, there aren’t wild elephants in San Diego, but National Elephant Appreciation Day gives us two things that we love to talk about. First, is elephants. They’re really cool creatures. And second, is the San Diego Zoo – we love to visit, and they have elephants!

National Elephant Appreciation Day - baby elephant
Elephant family.

Cool Elephant facts

  • Did you know that there is more than one kind of elephant? The San Diego Zoo is home to three elephants. Mary and Devi are Asian elephants and Shaba is an African elephant. 
  • What is the largest land animal on earth today? Yep, African Elephants! At 8 to 13 ft (2.4 to 3.9 m) at the shoulder and weighing 2.5 to 7 tons, African Elephants are the largest land animals in the world.
  • Did you know that elephants use their ears like air conditioners? Those big ears have lots of blood vessels. As their blood circulates it’s cooled when it goes through their flapping ears. This helps to cool the rest of them down.
  • How does an elephant’s trunk work? An elephant’s trunk is a prehensile upper lip (or a really long lip that’s kind of like a hand, it can grab and hold things). It also has about 40–60,000 muscles. They use it for smelling, touching, feeding, drinking, spraying water, dusting, producing sounds, loading, defending and attacking. Cool!

Language Exposure

  • English: Elephant
  • Spanish: elefante
  • Hindi: हाथी haathee
National Elephant Appreciation Day
African Elephant

See elephants live on the San Diego Zoo’s Elephant camera.

African Bush Elephant Conservation

Today the African Bush Elephants’ status is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN. This means that they are a high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. African elephants are protected in all the countries of their geographic range. They’re also protected under international environmental agreements, CITES and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species.

African Bush Elephant Stats

Description: Large land mammals with a nose/upper lip modified into a trunk and teeth modified into tusks
Size: 8 to 13 ft (2.4 to 3.9 m) tall at the shoulder
Weight: 6.00 t (6.61 short tons)
Habitat: Variety of habitats, including subtropical and temperate forests, dry and seasonally flooded grasslands and woodlands, wetlands and agricultural land from sea level to mountain slopes
Range: Sub-Saharan Africa
Diet:  Herbivorous – mainly grasses, creepers and herbs.
Fascinating Fact: Cool ears!  An elephant’s ears are a like an air conditioner. As elephants flap their ears on a hot day, the blood flowing through the many blood vessels in the ears is cooled. If they have just splashed around in a river, all the better! This ear flapping behavior cools their large bodies on warm days.

Status: Vulnerable

Scientific Classification

Elephant skin, close up.
Elephant skin, close up.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantoidea
Genus: Elephantidae
Species: Loxodonta africana

The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are outdoor destinations and are open. Check with the zoo’s website for official details. https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/


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The San Diego Creature Project is an animated children’s program created by kids, for kids. Follow three brothers, their cousin, and their dog Ryan as they solve creature mysteries with science and learn about life in Southern California.


Sources
San Diego Creature Project