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Elephants and Their Relatives

Happy EleFACT Friday! Every week, we’ll be sharing interesting and educational facts about the species that we all know and love. We hope that we can help you learn something new about not only the girls in our sanctuary, but elephants around the world.



​The elephant’s closest living relative is the Rock Hyrax, also called a rock rabbit or a dassie. You may be wondering how a creature that resembles a guinea pig is Bambi or Maia’s closest cousin. Like elephants, hyraxes also have tusks growing from their incisor teeth. In other mammalian species, tusks grow from the canines. Hyraxes also have flattened hoof-like nails like elephants do on the tips of their toes rather than the curved claws seen on other mammals.

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Comments(17)

  1. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Wow! Never heard of Hyrax before!! Amazing! Where is their habitat?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Rock hyraxes live throughout much of Africa and in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas in rocky, scrub-covered areas.

  2. REPLY
    Alana says

    WOW! Who would have guessed! Interesting. Thanks. I think EleFACT is a great idea.

  3. REPLY
    Melinda says

    Wow, that’s amazing! I never heard of that species! Thanks!

  4. REPLY
    Julie says

    Nice! You started off strong on your weekly EleFACTs! I would never have guessed. Who is the second closest living relative?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Sirenians which include manatees and dugongs.

  5. REPLY
    Lois Steinberg says

    I have observed the Rock Hyrax south of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as in Nambia. They live in large groups and are very shy and fascinating.

  6. REPLY
    marion weber says

    The write up was interesting. I knew about the relationship but not about why….the tusks and the nails.

  7. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Yeah, I KNOW this is correct – but it ain’t right! 🤣

  8. REPLY
    Sunny says

    I like elefact friday idea !

  9. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    YES KAT! I SAW A TV PROGRAM ABOUT THE ROCK HYRAX ! I STILL CANT BELIEVE THEY EQUATE TWO ATTRIBUTES OF ITS FANGS AND TOENAILS TO ELEPHANTS! ❤️🐘❤️ SEEMS BIZARRE‼️

  10. REPLY
    Gayle Janzen says

    Love learning new elephants facts every Friday. Their close relatives are adorable. I do see a slight resemblance in their feet but would have never guessed they’re related.

  11. REPLY
    John says

    Lions and tigers and Rock Hyraxes. Oh my!

  12. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    It opens our eyes to relations in the animal kingdom. Thank you, Kat.

  13. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Thank you, enjoyed learning about Rock Hyraxes.

  14. REPLY
    Sallie says

    You can always learn something new! Looking forward to every EleFACT/FRIDAY! Cannot wait for “Communicating with an Elephant”! Sounds, signals, movements that are positive and warning/warning negative! There is nothing more thrilling than walking with a small herd of orphans, knowing that they trust you and respect you. OK, you are still a puppy to them, but they do know who they can trust and actually have a fondness for . . .

  15. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    I think all of us on Earth are related. With time we all developed into different creatures of Mother Earth.

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