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EleFact Friday: Elephant Skin

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

Comments(10)

  1. REPLY
    Patricia says

    They are each miracles! Thank you for this!

  2. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    WOW, LOOK AT THIS SWEET LIL LADY❤️🐘❤️ SHE LOOKS LIKE SHES HAPPY!! I THOUGHT IT WAS LADY WHO HATED CAMERAS AND TURNS HER BACK ON THEM?? SMART SWEET LADY. SO CUTE WITH HER PINK FRECKLE EARS😍
    THANKS FOR INFO👍

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      She definitely prefers not to have phones or cameras around when we are working with her. Other times, she is more willing to let us take photos.

  3. REPLY
    Ellen Bollinger says

    Very Cool!

  4. REPLY
    Beji says

    Lady looks like she’s throwing some shade…that side-eye. How cute!

  5. REPLY
    Julie says

    Thank you so much. Interesting thing I never thought of. Lady looks so serene and beautiful!

  6. REPLY
    Terry Feleppa says

    So what I have learned about reddish/orange skin is not true! I was told it is from the sun and sunburn.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Elephants often dust themselves to protect their bodies from the sun. That can cause an orange tint to the skin.

  7. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    My beautiful sweet Lady!

  8. REPLY
    Audrey says

    Elephants are amazing, individual beings. I love them ❤️ 🐘

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