Elephants are outstanding in several ways:
_ Elephants are the largest land animals and have the largest brains. A female Asian elephant is 7 1/2 feet tall at the shoulders and weighs 5,000 to 10,000 pounds; a male is 9 feet tall and weighs 7,000 to 12,000 pounds. A female African elephant is 9 1/2 feet tall and 8,000 to 10,000 pounds; the male is around 11 feet tall and weighs 12,000 to 14,000 pounds._ Female elephants are called cows, males are bulls, and young elephants are calves. At birth, a calf is 3 feet tall and 200 pounds.
_ Asian elephants may live 70 to 80 years; African elephants may live 50 to 60 years.
_ Elephants usually travel 4 to 5 miles an hour, but they can run as fast as 24 miles an hour for short distances.
- Elephants are sure-footed. They walk on their toes, which are cushioned by thick pads.
_ An elephant's trunk has 40,000 muscles and tendons, and it is very strong and flexible. An elephant can pick up a single blade of grass with the "finger" on the end of the trunk. The trunk amplifies elephants' sounds: screams, trumpets, grunts, rumbles and even purring.
_ Elephants flap their large ears to help keep cool. They love water, and will sometimes cover themselves completely in mud.
_ Elephants go through as many as six sets of teeth in a lifetime because of the coarse food they eat. In one year, an average elephant in a zoo will eat 100,000 pounds of hay, 12,000 pounds of alfalfa hay, 1,500 gallons of grain, 3,000 fruits and vegetables, 2,000 potatoes and 1,600 loaves of bread. In a year, an elephant drinks 15,500 gallons of water.
Source: Zoobooks, a magazine for all ages from Wildlife Education Ltd., San Diego, Calif. 92103.