Thursday, September 1
Loxodonta africana, the African elephant, known for its size and dominance over the African terrain, holds the title as the world’s largest land mammal. The African bull elephant can stand well over 10 feet tall and weigh more than 12,000 pounds.
Despite their size, elephants are also quite nimble and can display incredible grace and balance. This characteristic is shown in no better way than when elephants are in water. Yes, elephants can swim, though most prefer to simply splash and play, smacking their trunks against the water and kicking their legs up. However, when given the opportunity, elephants will, for lack of a better term, “doggie-paddle” through the water, moving their enormous legs to propel themselves forward.
Zoo Atlanta’s two female African elephants, Kelly and Tara, also enjoy time in the water. On warm afternoons, Zoo visitors can sometimes see “the girls” getting showers in their habitat or in their pool. Tara especially loves to submerge into the water, often reaching for treats her keepers tossed just out of reach, coaxing her further in to the cool, refreshing oasis.
It is naturally difficult for elephants to release heat at times. Their size and inability to sweat like we would makes the provision of opportunities to cool off essential to their well-being. Mud, baths, and pool play are just some of the ways that the Zoo Atlanta elephant team helps keep the African elephants happy and healthy all summer long.
Lead Keeper, Elephants