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How long do elephants live?

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Quick Answer

The median lifespan of an elephant in the wild is 56 years for female African elephants and 42 years for female Asian elephants. Elephants can reach ages of over 70 years old. In captivity, elephants only live to be about 17 years old — one year short of adulthood.

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Full Answer

Elephants are the longest-living land mammals, other than humans. The short lives of elephants in captivity is thought to be the result of small artificial enclosures, pervasive diseases, obesity and the lack of large social herds. The oldest recorded elephant is Lin Wang, who died at 86 years old. The Japanese army used him to haul artillery in Burma until 1943, when the Chinese captured him. From 1954 until his death in 2003, Lin Wang lived at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan.

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