Asian elephants live in the scrub forests and rain forests of India, Nepal, and parts of Southeast Asia. They are often found along rivers during dry months.
At 6,000 to 13,000 pounds and 7-10 feet high at the shoulder, Asian elephants are smaller than their African relatives, with smaller ears and rounded backs.
Life of an Asian elephant
Elephants live in close social groups called herds, where they form strong bonds with each other. Females and calves live in multigenerational herds, while adult males spend time on their own and in "bachelor" herds.
Asian elephants are highly intelligent and social and communicate with each other in several ways. Sounds include snorts, barks and roars as well as very low frequency rumbles used to communicate over distances of 5 or more miles. They also use their highly sensitive trunks to communicate with each other by touch.
In the wild, Asian elephants spend up to 16 hours a day grazing on shrubs, grass, fruit, leaves, twigs and bark, eating a total of between 4 and 6% of their weight each day.
Females, called "cows," are pregnant for 20-22 months, the longest pregnancy of any mammal. Newborn calves are about 3 feet tall and weigh up to 300 pounds. They stand on their own very soon after birth and follow their mothers within a few days. They are taken care of by both their mother and the "aunts" in the herd.
Asian elephants live in some of the most densely human-populated regions of the world, which puts them in frequent and sometimes deadly conflict with people. Logging, development, and agriculture to produce crops such as oil palms have drastically reduced elephant habitat throughout Asia. Poaching for ivory, meat and other products also takes a significant toll on elephant populations.
Asian elephants at the Oregon Zoo
The zoo's elephants live in the new Elephant Lands exhibit. Throughout the habitat, feeding stations, mud wallows, and water features encourage the elephants to be active 14-16 hours a day, just as they would be in their natural environment.