I know, talk like a pirate one day, then appreciate elephants another. It's a never-ending succession of celebrations though I guess it could be worse … like what if there was nothing at all to celebrate? We usually remind you of crazy holidays to celebrate in our sidebar, but sometimes it's just not enough. I never really appreciated elephants all that much until we went to Africa. It's not that I didn't like them; it's more that I just never got up close and personal to any. Seeing them in zoos and circuses just never did it for me. Then we sailed to Africa and visited some parks where the elephants roam free.
First, some interesting elephant facts:
1. There were only two species (Asian and African) until 2010 when a third species was recognized. Now there are three. The Asian species plus two African species: African bush elephants and African forest elephants. Some scientists believe there may be more.
2. The closest living relative to the African elephant is the rock hyrax aka dassie. Looking at these little furry creatures, you'd never know it, but they evidently share many elephantine characteristics.
3. Baby elephants (calves) are born blind. Some babies suck on their trunks the way human babies suck their thumbs.
4. Elephants, humans and Neanderthals are the only animals known to have death rituals.
5. Some elephants in Thailand paint (not really according to Desmond Morris).
6. Swimming elephants are found in the Andaman Islands off India. They use their trunks like snorkels.
7. African elephants are the largest land animal, have the largest brains of all land animals and endure the longest gestation period (22 months … ouch!).
8. Still exploited for their ivory tusks, all world elephants are on the WWF's vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered species list.
9. Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom and learning and the remover of obstacles, has the head of an elephant and the body of a human.
10. Elephants (like white men) can't jump.
Here's a close-up of some of the elephants we met in our travels:
Pachydermophobia – Google it, there are ~6,000 results for fear of elephants … really?