Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

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Wild Guide Journal: Asian elephant vs. African elephant


An African elephant’s tusks can grow up to 6 feet long. Now that’s some serious excess baggage. 

By stephaniearne

I had such a fun time filming the elephant web series at the Ft. Worth Zoo! The staff was incredibly passionate about their jobs and hospitable to the Wild Kingdom crew

I want to share the story of how the Ft. Worth Zoo has a three-generation herd, which mimics herds in the wild. Guests of the zoo have the opportunity to observe the relationships between a female and male calf and the calves between their aunt, mother and grandmother. Nothing beats watching how curious and clumsy a baby elephant is when they are discovering their world! Even better is viewing the wonderful connection between the mother and grandmother as they provide guidance and affection to the little ones.

As I am watching the Wild Kingdom crew hide gopro3s in the elephant pools to get an unusual shot of the elephants drinking water, I hear a conversation between a father and son behind me.

Dad: “Check out this elephant, buddy!

Boy (6/7 yrs.): “Cool! Where do elephants live?”

Dad: “Uhh… Afffffrica?” He says apprehensively.

Boy: “But Dad, this sign says they are from Asia. Do elephants live everywhere?”

(SILENCE. At this point, I can’t decide if I should turn around and help this dude out).

Dad: Trailing off, “Uh, well, yeah… Oh buddy! Check this out, Giraffes!”

Before I could turn around and give him elephant facts that would turn him into the legendary Marlin Perkins and blow his son’s mind, he was gone.

Parents, I am here to save the day and help you impress your mini-you with these elephant fast facts!

  • Asian elephants have smaller ears that kinda look like the shape of India. African elephant ears are larger and look like the shape of Africa. Nifty, huh?
  • Asian elephants have two humps or their heads; African elephants have no humps or dents.
  • Asian elephants have a convex or hump on their backs; African elephants have concave backs.
  • Asian elephants have one finger-like projection on the tip of their trunks, and African elephants are blessed with two finger-like projections. These are used to pick up smaller items similarly to how we use our fingers.
  • The Asian elephant’s lower lip is long and tapered; whereas, the African elephant’s lower lip is short and round.


Image of an Asian elephant. 

Since I started working as a wildlife educator in 2005, I feel I could write a book on some interesting things parents have said to answer their children’s questions. The point is, you are trying, and hopefully these five facts will make you an elephant genius to your little calf, I mean, child.

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