Asian Elephant

Elephas maximus

The Asian elephant weighs approx. five tonnes and is three metres high, making it the largest land mammal in Asia and thus somewhat smaller than its larger African relative.

Always the one

Asian elephants feed a lot and sleep little – they spend about 17–19 hours alone eating. They devour approx. 150 kg of plant food on a daily basis, which consists mainly of grass, leaves, twigs and tree bark. They can drink up to 150 litres when visiting the water point.


  • Origin

    South and Southeastern Asia

  • Habitat

    Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, savannahs, bushland

  • Diet

    Grass, hay, fruits, twigs, bark, roots

  • Status

    approx. 50,000

  • Size

    on average 2.70 m (max. 3.40 m)

  • Weight

    Bull approx. 5 t, cow approx. 2.7 t

  • Gestation period

    approx. 22 months

  • Achievable age

    60 to 70 years in human care, approx. 40 years in the wild

Threat Categories of IUCN

Typical elephant: loyal and considerate

As social herd animals, elephants live together in large family units consisting of mothers, aunts and daughters, with the most experienced cow being the leader of the group. Bulls join the herd only during the mating season and otherwise move on alone afterwards. Even male offspring leave the herd when they reach 8–10 years – only the cows remain together for a lifetime.

Easy to tell apart

Asian elephants have smaller ears than their African relatives, two humps on their heads and only
one 'finger' on their trunk. African elephants are generally larger and heavier.

A trunk – many abilities

As opposed to us humans, the nose and upper lip are fused together into one long formation. Using their trunks, they can take in food, breathe, smell, communicate, grasp or suck up water and then blow it into their mouths. If danger threatens, then the otherwise good-natured animals can also make use of their trunks to defend themselves and to inflict deadly blows to enemies. A truly miraculous tool.

Did you know that...

...elephants spend 19 hours per day eating,
...they have the longest gestation period of all land mammals at 22 months
...and a fully grown bull weighs up to 5 tons? Cows weigh about half that and newborns weigh over 100 kg.

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Today, 28. November
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Last admission: 15:30
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