Asian Elephant FAQ

COMMON QUESTIONS

What species of elephants does African Lion Safari have?

Asian Elephants.

How many elephant species are there?

Three! Asian elephants, African forest elephants, and African savannah elephants.

What’s the difference between Asian Elephants and their African relatives?

Asian Elephant
- Smaller ears
- High domed forehead
- Arched back
- Only males have long ivory tusks
- Females have shorter version of ivory known as tushes
- 5 toenails on the front and 4 on the back
African Savanna Elephant
- Large ears shaped like the continent of Africa
- Rounded heads
- Tusks are curved outward
- Both males and females can have tusks
- 4 toenails on their front feet and 3 on the back
African Forest Elephant
Similar to the African savanna elephant except:
- Overall smaller
- Rounder ears
- Tusks are straighter and point downward

How long do elephants live?

Elephants can live up to 60-70 years of age.

How much water does an elephant drink each day?

A full-grown elephant can drink approximately 60 gallons per day!

What do elephants eat?

Elephants are herbivores, so the majority of their diet consists of hay, grass and other types of vegetation. They also enjoy fruits, vegetables and various supplemented grains (like oats). A full-grown elephant can eat about 300lbs of food per day!

How many elephants do you have?

African Lion Safari has a herd of 17 elephants!

Why does African Lion Safari have an Asian Elephant Conservation Programme?

Elephants are an endangered species and zoological institutions such as African Lion Safari play an important role in their survival. Unfortunately, all three species of elephants are endangered due to habitat loss/fragmentation, increased cases of human-elephant conflict, and poaching for their ivory tusks. Our elephants not only serve as ambassadors for their species in range countries, but also provide us with many learning opportunities to further expand our knowledge to better protect them from extinction. African Lion Safari is recognized worldwide for its expertise in elephant welfare and we are proud to have a very successful Asian elephant conservation programme. Our elephant care professionals are regularly consulted by conservation organizations worldwide for their input on issues of elephant welfare, healthcare management and conservation.

Why is elephant conservation important?

Asian elephants are an endangered species with less than 40,000 left in the wild. They face many challenges to their existence and are reliant on humans to ensure their conservation. By encouraging a connection with our elephants and other animals, our hope is to inspire our visitors to protect and preserve biodiversity and endangered species.

How does African Lion Safari participate in elephant conservation?

African Lion Safari has a long history of participating and contributing to conservation and research projects, both at the park and in range countries. In 1998, African Lion Safari founded the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) along with several international partners, and has been an active participant in Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Elephant Taxon Advisory Group for over 30 years. African Lion Safari is an advisor to the Asian Elephant Support Foundation, as well as a member of the IUCN SSC Asian elephant specialist group. The knowledge acquired from research of reproduction, physiology, behaviour has helped advance elephant conservation worldwide.
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Do you transfer elephants to other facilities?

African Lion Safari participates in managed conservation programs for many species including elephants. Part of these programs includes transferring individuals to other accredited zoological facilities for the purposes of introduction of genetic diversity. This helps ensure that populations of these species are as genetically healthy and viable as possible. We have safely transferred male elephants as part of these managed conservation programs to other carefully selected partner facilities. This type of decision is made in the best interest of the individual elephant as well as the Asian elephant population as a whole. Male elephants are largely solitary animals that leave their family group when they reach sexual maturity. They often form bachelor groups with a few other males. The male elephants that have been transferred to other accredited institutions have contributed significantly to the conservation of the elephant populations in the North America as well as Europe.

Why is it important that your elephants learn a variety of behaviours?

Many animals including elephants are trained for a variety of reasons including husbandry, education and research. Effective training enhances our ability to care of our elephants, allowing for any necessary medical examinations to be performed more easily with less stress. Routine husbandry procedures are the key to a healthy, genetically diverse population.

Do you use bullhooks on your elephants?

No, African Lion Safari does not use bullhooks on their elephants. Our elephant management programme uses verbal cues, target training and body language with a focus on positive reinforcement of food, praise and social contact.

Why do you allow your elephants to breed?

Breeding is a behavior that naturally happens when elephants are in a happy, thriving environment. Our elephants live in a very natural social structure with a large cohesive multi-generational family. They enjoy a diverse environment with the ability to roam hundreds of acres of woodlands, fields, streams and ponds. We are proud to have welcomed 25 baby elephant calves since 1991. Breeding is not only a crucial component to conservation, but it is also a behaviour that benefits their well-being. Our multi-generational herd thrives together because it consists of mothers, daughters, sons, aunts, and uncles, very much like you would find in their range countries. Through our conservation program, we have been able to learn so much about the species as a whole both socially and physically. Being able to monitor the development of our elephants from pregnancy to birth and development to adulthood has produced valuable information to help protect elephants worldwide. Every elephant birth is extremely special and is one step farther from extinction.

Do you separate elephants?

Every female Asian elephant born at African Lion Safari still resides here in our herd and is part of a large family very similar in composition to elephant herds found in their native habitats. We are currently home to 17 Asian elephants, 14 of which are females. Within our herd, we have a few different family groups which are together throughout the day and night. We also have a bachelor group containing 3 bull elephants who enjoy time individually, together and mingling with the rest of the herd.
elephant herd

Do elephants enjoy the winter months?

The majority of our elephants were born and raised at African Lion Safari and are acclimatized to the weather in Southern Ontario. Our elephants go outside every day in the wintertime and have access to hundreds of acres of wooded areas, streams and fields to forage and play in. Our young elephants enjoy playing in the snow!

What do you do with elephants in the winter?

Our elephants stay right here “On Safari!™” They enjoy going out for daily walks and LOVE playing in the snow! A few of our elephants will actually break the ice and go for a swim in the ponds and streams within their 200+ acreage. At night our herd has access to a heated state of the art facility.

Why do elephants throw dirt on their back?

Elephants gather sand and mud with their trunks and throw it onto their bodies, providing sun protection and repelling bugs. Sand helps dry and warm their skin in the cooler months, while mud helps to keep them cool in the hotter months.

Is the elephant lookout the only space they have?

African Lion Safari has four outdoor habitats attached to its 20,000 square foot indoor facility that includes an indoor sand habitat. In addition to this, they also have 200 acres of private off-show habitat consisting of grasslands, woods, streams, and lakes for swimming. African Lion Safari's Elephant Lookout is one of the habitats that allows for a closer viewing opportunity during our operating season. Different family groups of elephants are rotated in and out of the Elephant lookout daily.

Are the sprinklers at the Elephant Lookout their only water source?

Our herd of elephants have access to several streams and ponds in their 200 acres of private off-show habitats. They are free to drink at any point during the day, however elephants tend to drink 200-300 liters of water between two drinking sessions, usually first thing in the morning and again at night. 
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