The cheerful tone, like that of Mancini's "The Pink Panther Theme", presents a stark contrast to more melancholy Mancini standards such as "Moon River". Due to its "goofy" sound, it is often used in a humorous context, as in an episode of The Critic. It was also covered by a number of performers in the 1960s, including Bill Haley & His Comets who recorded a version for Orfeon Records in 1964. It was the closing song at the end of The Lemonwheel, the August 1998 music festival that ended the summer tour of jamband Phish. Mancini's version was not released a single. The Billboard Top 100 singles were Lawrence Welk, and the Miniature Men.
The Nickelodeon animated series The Angry Beavers features a sped-up version of "Baby Elephant Walk" for the show's end credits. The first few notes were used at the start of play in the video game Crazy Climber. The tune is commonly heard throughout Philadelphia Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park. In The Simpsons it is used by Homer Simpson in the season 2 episode Dancin' Homer where he dances as a mascot for the Springfield Isotopes baseball team. During an episode of Minor Adjustments, Darcy (Sara Rue) observes that the cadence of the song allows one to hum it while watching people pace.