The African and the Indian elephant are the largest land animals, with the African being the larger of the two. In addition to their size, they can also be distinguished from each other by the shape of their ears. Remarkably, the African elephant has ears shaped like the African continent, while the Indian elephant's are shaped like India.
Elephants are continually eating, as they only digest 40% of what they eat. They stop growing at 35 – 40 and can live for up to 70 or even 80 years of age. Their lifespan is controlled by their teeth and once they lose their teeth they cannot live.
As legend has it, an elephant never forgets...and this is entirely true! Inverdoorn is proud to be the home of two, free-roaming elephants; namely, Bully and Nduna. These two elephants grew up together. Bully is between 25 and 28 years of age and Nduna is between 10 and 12. Both were bred in captivity. Bully was a movie star and has sadly lost one of his tusks. Nduna was also fated for a future in film; until he and Bully were transferred to Inverdoorn for a happier existence in their natural home, in a much larger space.
African elephants are the elephants of the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth'), consisting of two extant species, the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. Loxodonta is one of the two existing genera in the family Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it Loxodonte. An anonymous author romanized the spelling to Loxodonta and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) recognizes this as the proper authority.
Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
The African elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal. Its thickset body rests on stocky legs and it has a concave back. Its large ears enable heat loss. Its upper lip and nose forms a trunk. The trunk acts as a fifth limb, a sound amplifier and an important method of touch. The African elephant's trunk ends in two opposing lips, whereas the Asian elephant trunk ends in a single lip. African bush elephants are bigger than Asian elephants. Males stand 3.2–4.0 m (10–13 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 4,700–6,048 kg (10,000–13,330 lb), while females stand 2.2–2.6 m (7.2–8.5 ft) tall and weigh 2,160–3,232 kg (4,800–7,130 lb).
The largest individual recorded stood four metres to the shoulders and weighed ten tonnes.
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 5 kg (11 lb) and measures about 30 cm (12 in) long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair shifts forward, and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth six times. At about 40 to 60 years of age, the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death.
Their tusks are firm teeth; the second set of incisors become the tusks. They are used for digging for roots and stripping the bark off trees for food, for fighting each other during mating season, and for defending themselves against predators. The tusks weigh from 23–45 kg (51–99 lb) and can be from 1.5–2.4 m (5–8 ft) long. Unlike Asian elephants, both male and female African elephants have tusks. They are curved forward and continue to grow throughout the elephant's lifetime.
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