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EleFact Friday – Sleepy Elephants Do Lie Down

For last week’s EleFACT Friday, we talked about the hearts of elephants, and we mentioned that their heart rates actually speed up when they are lying down and resting. This week, we want to talk about the common falsehood that elephants cannot lie down for long periods of time, like when they want to sleep. While it’s true that elephants in the wild get significantly less sleep compared to the elephants who are in our sanctuary, it’s not because their weight prevents them from lying down or causes them harm when they sleep. It’s simply because an elephant like Maia doesn’t need to be on guard, aware of dangers, searching for food, or constantly on the move like an elephant in the wild would be. 

Elephants can sleep both lying down and standing up. Research has shown that elephants in the wild are more likely to sleep standing up, saving them the energy and time it would take to pick themselves up off the ground. Mammals lose tone in their skeletal muscles during REM sleep, so for an elephant not in the wild to experience a deeper, REM sleep, it would need to lie down. Elephant legs are in almost complete vertical position under their body, like the legs on a table, which provides incredible support. For elephants who sleep standing up, these strong legs help prevent the risk of buckling. 

At Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, Maia is the only elephant who naps so hard that you could approach her without waking her. 

Video below shows her enjoying one of those serious, muddy naps

Comments(12)

  1. REPLY
    Lee says

    You guys should think about getting a Drone it can help out you can Survey the land for Potential fires in summer check All your fence line find Elephants you can’t see or find.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      we have one. a longtime lovely supporter bought one for us just for that purpose. 🙂

  2. REPLY
    Barb says

    Brings a smile? You betcha! Thanks!

  3. REPLY
    Wim says

    Wonderful Maia can nap super relaxed. Unfortunately elephants in the wild lead a very difficult and dangerous life. 🤗🐘❤️

  4. REPLY
    fernande poitras says

    Elle est trop drôle couchée comme ça dans la boue

  5. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    With a lovely serenade by the birds! this is wonderful to see!

  6. REPLY
    Lynne Russert says

    Sleeping like an angel 😇

  7. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Maia sleeps better than I do bless her. Love her fuzzy head!

  8. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH HOW LOVELY SWEET ❤️🐘MAIA HAVING A REAL MUDDY SLEEP‼️ YES INDEED THESE LADIES SURE HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT LIKE THEY DID IN FORMER LIVES! IM SURE THEY ALL LAY DOWN AT NIGHT FOR A FEW HRS AND SNORE ABIT! AND DURING THEY DAY ALSO🐘💤. THES LADIES MUST GET THEIR BEAUTY REST😃😀. GOD BLESS 🙏THE PEOPLE WHO FREED THESE LADIES AND RESCUED TO RECOVER THEIR LIVES IN PEACEFUL JUNGLE PARADISE, WITH FINE FOLKS TO LOVE, FEED, AND CARE FOR THEM🙏👍

  9. REPLY
    Beji says

    Sweet girl catching some zzzzz’s

  10. REPLY
    Sandi Paquet says

    I was thinking that you can’t see her breathing! At least her trunk is moving slightly, that lets you know she’s okay and just sleeping. Would love to be able to just sleep like that, maybe not in the mud though! Love this little video, thanks for sharing.

  11. REPLY
    Shari says

    Maia must be very content and relaxed when she sleeps. She is so sweet!

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