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From trunk to toe, Asia’s largest land mammal displays some amazing adaptations to life as a forest-dwelling herbivore. It is most famous for its trunk, which is indispensable for feeding, drinking, smelling, touching, communicating, and bathing. Asian elephants live in family groups called herds that are led by older, experienced females.

These matriarchs are responsible for the herd’s safety, as well as for providing food and shelter for its members. Females maintain a life-long connection to the herd, while males leave the herd when they reach puberty. They spend most of their time alone, or in bachelor groups. During musth, a period of heightened testosterone, bulls compete with other for mating opportunities. Generally, the older and larger bulls dominate the breeding.

Learn more: The Cincinnati Zoo is committed to helping to save the world’s largest land mammals.

See how you can continue to support elephant conservation through Animal Art or Brush in the Trunk paintings.

elephant in water

Did You Know?

Trunk Muscles: Over 100,000 muscles of the face, nose, and upper lip combine to form the elephant’s trunk.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Elephas maximus

Southern and Southeast Asia


Up to 10 ft

47 yrs

Zoo Location:
Elephant Reserve

Grasses, leaves, barks, and fruits

Risk Status:
Species at Risk (IUCN—Endangered)