World Elephant Day: Elephant Facts

Brandon Goins

August 12 is World Elephant Day, a day for us all to come together to do what we can for our planet’s gentlest giants. An easy way for you to help them is simply educating yourself.

Need a place to start? We’re here to help with ten interesting elephant facts from

  • African elephants of both sexes generally (but not always) grow long incisor teeth called tusks. Among Asian elephants, only males exhibit tusks, and not all males have them.
  • All elephants are herd animals with very definite social structure.
  • Herds are led by a matriarch, usually the oldest female, and are made up of daughters, sisters and their offspring.
  • Male elephants often stay independent, but sometimes band together in bachelor pods.
  • There are more than 100,000 muscle units in an elephant’s trunk, making it sensitive enough to pick up objects as small as a penny and strong enough to lift whole trees.
  • Elephants favor either their left or right tusk, just as people favor one hand over the other.
  • Asian elephants are more closely related to the extinct wooly mammoth than they are to the African elephant.
  • Elephants are highly social animals that form close bonds and family units. In the wild, family herds follow seasonal migration routes, led by a matriarch with decades of ecological knowledge about droughts, predation, and other threats.
  • Baby elephants weigh approximately 200 pounds when born and the gestation period in elephants is almost two years.
  • Asian elephants have one small finger-like projection at the end of the trunk. African elephants have two “fingers.”


Visit the North Carolina Zoo to learn more about Elephants and the Zoo's conservation efforts.