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EleFact Friday: Miraculous Elephant Mothers

Guillermina with palmNot too long ago, we asked our readers to submit questions that we could answer with EleFacts. One of the most popular topics mentioned surrounded elephant pregnancy and birth. Though none of the elephants currently at the sanctuary have ever been pregnant to our knowledge, this week, we are going to talk about the impressive feat that is giving birth to a baby elephant. 

Not only are elephants the largest land mammals on Earth, but they also have the longest gestation period of any living mammal. African elephants’ pregnancies can last for approximately 22 months, while Asian elephants carry their baby for 18-22 months, with both species giving birth to calves about every 4 years. The pregnancies last a long time because the babies (who can weigh upwards of 250 pounds and stand about 3 feet tall at birth) grow slowly in the womb, but also because they are born with advanced levels of brain development. For this reason, they are able to quickly understand the structure of the matriarchal society and are fast learners when it comes to learning their surroundings.

Baby elephants also emerge from the womb with the ability to keep up with a moving herd – which doesn’t stop when a mother gives birth. Studies show that the average daily speed of an adult elephant doesn’t change significantly during pregnancy or after birth. Mothers do slow down on the actual day their baby is born, but otherwise they are able to keep pace with their fellow herd members. Even the matriarch is able to have her calf and continue to lead a herd at her normal pace.

There are so many interesting aspects regarding elephant pregnancies and young calves, so be on the lookout for more fascinating facts about elephant birth in the future!

P.S.: Don’t forget that today is the last day to give your favorite elephant (or elephants) an Ele-Valentine’s Day gift. Our goal is to provide a truckload of fresh fruits and vegetables for all of the girls to enjoy. If you’d like to send an elephant a special gift with your name included, click on the DONATE NOW link here: https://globalelephants.org/valentine/

Photograph of Guillermina carrying a palm leaf

Comments(9)

  1. REPLY
    Alejandra Enquin says

    La mamá questuvo embarazada dos veces y vivíó en el Santuario fue POCHA.una vez antes de tener a Guillermina,en cautiverioGran madraza protegió a su hijita mas de 20 años en un pozo de Piedra!! En el zoológico de Mendoza,Argentina.y Pocha falleció al tiempo de llegar💔

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Pocha is very missed, but she did not die upon arrival to sanctuary. She lived at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil for several beautiful months before passing away. We’re grateful to have cared for Pocha.

  2. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    Everything about elephants is fascinating, but this might be at the top of the list! I love all the things we learn from your posts, Sara! Thank you!!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you and happy EleFact Friday!

  3. REPLY
    Jo Alex SG says

    Thank you for the educational post and above all for everything you do for these precious beings! I can’t donate but I often share the links! Blessed be you all!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for sharing! That’s so helpful for our cause.

  4. REPLY
    Beji says

    Just astonishing. I gave birth to a 6 pound baby and couldn’t walk for 3 days!!! 250 pounds….ohnoohno….

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      😂😂😂😂

  5. REPLY
    Christine Strickling says

    Thank y ou for the information. I had no idea exactly how amazing the process of an elephant giving birth and why the gestational period is so long.

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