African Elephant Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

If you had a trunk instead of a nose, what would you use it for? Well, the African elephant uses its trunk for everything from getting a drink to taking a shower! Learn about the interesting life of the African elephant.

The Creative African Elephant

You probably know that elephants have long trunks, but did you know that the African elephant uses its trunk like a straw when it's thirsty? It snorts up to two gallons of water into its trunk and then squirts the water into its mouth. That's just one of the neat things these huge mammals from Africa do.

An African elephant
elephant

Appearance

Both male and female African elephants are big, but the males can be enormous. One male elephant can weigh up to 14,000 pounds, which is as much as a school bus! They are about 25 feet long and stand about 11 feet tall at the shoulder, so you'd need a step ladder to get on the elephant's back.

When you think of a baby, you probably think of a cute little bundle that you can hold in your arms, but you couldn't hold a newborn elephant because they weigh about 250 pounds! That's as much as a grown man weighs.

Adult and baby African elephant
baby

Both male and female African elephants have two long, white tusks, which are actually overgrown teeth. They use their tusks as tools to lift and carry things, dig holes, and protect themselves. An African elephant has thick gray skin covering its entire body from its big ears to its long tail, which at four feet long is probably as long as you are tall.

Adult female African elephants and their babies live in social groups called herds. The oldest female elephant leads the herd, while the adult males live by themselves or in groups with other males.

They Have Useful Trunks

Of course, the most noticeable feature on the elephant is its long trunk, which is actually an elongation of its nose and upper lip. The trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like projections on the end that it uses to pick up small things, like berries and leaves. An elephant can also use its trunk as a hand to feed itself clumps of grass, hay, fruit, or other favorite plant foods. It takes more than 100 pounds of food a day to fill an elephant's stomach.

An elephant uses its trunk to smell and breathe, just like you use your nose, but an elephant can also use its trunk as a snorkel when it's under water. If an elephant needs to cross a deep river, it can lift its trunk above water to breathe.

Trunks are great for drinking and showers.
water

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