Happy EleFACT Friday — today is all about elephants and their skin. The skin of an elephant can weigh as much as 2000 pounds (over 900 kg) and varies in thickness across their bodies. On vulnerable spots, like on the trunk, legs, and back, the skin can be 2.5 to 3.8 cm thick, but behind the ears, by the eyes, on the abdomen, chest and shoulders, it’s considerably thinner. The thickness of the skin aids in keeping the inner pressure of their bodies comforted and secured. For example, if you buy one apple at the store, you may just use a plastic produce bag to carry it. But if you buy 10 pounds of apples, you’ll probably need something thicker to withstand the weight.
The skin lacks moisture, making it loose, especially around the joints, to ensure the necessary flexibility for motion. Wrinkles on the skin also help retain moisture. We get a lot of questions about the pink or lighter areas of skin on our Asian elephants, which is from a lack of pigmentation. This difference in color can be influenced by age, habitat, genetics, or nutrition. Elephants from different parts of Asia also have different coloration on their bodies, but, because they dust themselves so often, elephants tend to be the same color as their enclosures.
Photo of Lady, showing off an example of differently pigmented skin