Although we don’t have any baby elephants here at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, the miracle of birth and the abilities of the species within minutes of being born are still fascinating. For today’s EleFact, we’re going to take a look at the skills of elephant calves.
At birth, elephant calves may weigh between 200-300 pounds (90-135 kilograms), which is astounding in itself. On average, they gain two pounds a day until they are fully grown. Despite what one may think, the use of their trunks does not come naturally to calves when they are born; not only do they lack the muscle tone at birth that is necessary to properly control and use their trunk skills, but it takes quite a bit of practice to learn how to control it. Calves are also born almost nearly blind, relying on the sense of touch from their trunks and the lead of their mother to find their way.
It has been found that 99% of elephants are born in the evening, which is believed to be an evolutionary trait that was developed to protect their young from predators. It has been studied that elephants have even been known to intentionally disrupt birth when daylight is near.
One of the most remarkable things about newly born elephants is their ability to stand almost immediately after birth. Following almost two years of gestation, calves are born with almost fully developed brains. Upon birth, when calves are most vulnerable, the ability to immediately stand and move allows the herd to protect their smallest and most vulnerable members. Calves are protected by the teenagers and other mothers of the herd, making sure that everyone can get to food and water as soon as possible.
Every day, we are reminded of the incredible physical, mental, and emotional abilities of the adult elephant residents at ESB. We remember that all of these adults were once much smaller, much more vulnerable, and survived their younger years with the protection of other adults and their own strength. The species continues to amaze us with everything we learn.
Photo of Guille