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Seven to nine foot tall females and eleven foot tall males make Asian elephants the second largest living land animals, after African elephants. Females weigh up to 10,000 pounds; males up to 14,000 pounds. Asian elephants possess one finger-like projection on the trunk's end, small ears shaped like the sub-continent of India, large tusks in most males and small rarely visible tusks in females.They live in increasingly isolated pockets in South and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra.

Elephants are remarkably coordinated. They can climb mountains, tightrope walk on narrow ridges, swim across wide ridges, stand on their hind feet, and run as fast as 25 miles an hour. But they can't jump! They are just too big, and must keep one, and usually two feet on the ground even when running.

Listed as endangered in 1976 as numbers were reduced dramatically due to habitat loss. A current ban on international trade in ivory and other elephant products is in effect. About 50,000 remain in the wild but habitat is rapidly shrinking due to the expansion of human population.

In December 1993, Shanthi, a 20-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to the National Zoo's first elephant calf, Kumari. Sadly, Kumari died after contracting a virus in April of 1995. FONZ has established a Kumari Elephant Conservation Fund to assist in studying the virus that killed Kumari, to help fund research in artificial insemination, and to improve the elephant facilities at the National Zoo. Currently, the Zoo is working on elephant artificial insemination research in hopes of producing another calf in the future.

Learn how you can support Asian Elephants by making a donation through Friends of the National Zoo's ADOPT A SPECIES program!


Asian Elephant by Jessie Cohen / NZP
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