The average lifespan of captive Asian elephants is 48 years (per Wikipedia).
- Maia, our youngest elephant, is 47. Our other residents are all older –
- Rana is 62,
- Lady is 49,
- Mara is 55, and
- Bambi is 58.
With elephants, like all other animals, everyone ages a little differently and at their own rate. However, there are still some overarching patterns to aging.
Once elephants turn 50, they begin to lose muscle mass in a few locations. The most prominent areas are along their spines and their heads. Age is why so many of our elephants have such pronounced facial structure and backbones. Gravity also has an impact – Ramba (who was 65 when she passed away) had very baggy skin around her ankles. Captive elephants who don’t have much space lose more muscle mass in additional areas. Our elephants are decently fit from their large habitat and daily wanderings, which maintains muscle mass in their legs. Lady nor Maia have pronounced loss of muscle mass at this time, but those changes are just around the corner.
The loss of muscle mass isn’t specific to elephants. Many species – including humans – experience the same things. Like with elephants, we lose muscle mass on our heads as well when we age, making them more triangular in shape. Thankfully, it’s less pronounced in humans than in elephants.
There are other age-related changes in elephants as well, like Rana getting delightfully fuzzy. Muscle mass loss along the spine is one of the more apparent changes. Just remember, aging is a natural process of life. As the Irish proverb goes, “Do not regret growing old; it is a privilege denied to many.” While our elephants are older, they are still full of joy, happiness, and celebrate everyday moments with trumpets and rumbles.
Photo of Rana (left) and Mara (right) in a mud hole. This photo is a few weeks old and was taken before the rainy season began. We chose it because it clearly shows Rana’s pronounced spine and face shape from aging. Please know it is still raining here daily and our grass is currently lush. ❤️