Quick Facts about the Elephants at the Memphis Zoo

Spend a minute learning about the largest mammals on land with our friends at the Memphis Zoo!

How well do you know elephants? Did you know that they are the only mammal that can’t jump?  Or that research shows that elephants have complex, human-like feelings and emotion, like compassion, happiness, sadness, and even self-awareness?  Elephants are truly remarkable animals, and you’ll love these quick facts about the elephants at the Memphis Zoo!

Long Live the Elephants

Elephants have a very long lifespan, with the average being around 60 years, depending on the species of elephant.  The African Elephants, like the ones at the Memphis Zoo, can live to be up to 70 years old. The Memphis Zoo is actually home to the oldest African Elephant in North America, Tyranza, or “Ty” for short, who is now 54 years of age, and has been at the Memphis Zoo since she was 12 years old.

Elephants Don’t Like Peanuts

There’s a myth that elephants like peanuts, but that’s actually not true at all.  Elephants are herbivores, so their diet consists of mostly grass, leaves, hay, fruits, and vegetables.  Because food doesn’t just magically appear in the wild in one big giant pile, and also because elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating, the trainers at the Zoo try to spread out the elephant’s food sources throughout their living space and at different times of the day, to constantly encourage the animals to move around their habitat.

Their Trunks are Crazy/Weird/Cool

Have you ever seen an elephant’s trunk from up close? They very much move around like a snake, or an octopus tentacle.  Elephants don’t have any bones in their trunks — they’re completely made of muscles.  Not just some muscle, a BUNCH of muscles — their trunks are made up of over 50,00 muscles, and on average, can weigh around 400 pounds.  These muscular appendages are amazingly dexterous, and can pick up items as small as a dime, or as big and heavy as tree limbs.

They also use their trunk to drink water, but they don’t use it quite like a straw.  They suck up several gallons of water into their trunk, and then spray the water into their mouths, kind of like you would use a squeeze-top water bottle.

For more information on the elephants at the Memphis Zoo, visit their website here.

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