What Is an Elephant's Life Cycle?

The life cycle of an elephant is divided into three main phases: baby, adolescent and adult. Each part of the life cycle is characterized by distinctive phases of development, duties and behaviors.

The baby phase of a elephant's life cycle can last from five years to a decade. This phase is characterized by a dependency on the mother elephant for food and protection. During this phase, the mother elephant teaches the baby elephant important life skills, such as how to use its trunk for drinking and bathing and how to live in a herd with other elephants. This phase ends when the baby is completely weaned from the mother's milk.

The adolescent phase lasts from the time the baby is weaned from the mother's milk until about 17 years of age. During the adolescent phase, elephants reach sexual maturity but do not yet mate. Male elephants often begin to break away from the main herd and form their own mini-pods during this period.

The last phase of an elephant's life is the adult phase, which lasts from about 18 years of age until the elephant dies. During adulthood, elephants mate and form new alliances with elephants from other herds. Like humans, elephants also begin to display age-related illnesses, such as arthritis and cardiovascular problems, during late adulthood.