EleFact Friday: Amazing Elephant Calves

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


  1. REPLY
    Kitty Galore says

    All non-humans, even down to the salamander, are smarter than us. I wish more people would realize this.

  2. REPLY
    Julie says

    Wonderful! Thank you!

  3. REPLY
    Terry Silva says

    So interesting! And elephant calves are so cute!

  4. REPLY
    Syd says

    Kitty, I agree and I think we can even go “down” below that to plant life – and yet the race to extinction is on.
    Luckily we have the lovely girls of ESB proving their cleverness to us every day. Big thank you to Scott, Kat, Sara and all supporters who realize there are sentient beings out there who desperately need our understanding and help…….

  5. REPLY
    Barb says

    Happiness is realizing the girls at ESB were once calves that survived perils of babyhood.

  6. REPLY
    Carey says

    Elephant calves are amazing, and funny as hell! I wonder how long these beings had a normal upbringing with famil 💔

  7. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Miracles in the making for sure! I’ve just learned so much more about elephants which has given me even more appreciation than before so thank you for that! I’ve always said elephants are so much more intelligent than humans give them credit for we must protect them so we can learn from them what it truly means to be loyal loving compassionate and so very protective of family never leaving the side of one of their own in trouble 💞

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