There are two species of elephants: the Asian elephant, which lives in south and southeast Asia, and the African elephant, which lives in sub-Saharan Africa. The can be found living in the tropical forests, woodlands and savannahs of these regions.
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.
Elephants are gray in color and have a long trunk that has several uses, including breathing and feeding. They are the largest land mammals on Earth.
The size of an elephant depends on the elephant's age, gender and type; the largest elephant was an adult male African elephant who weighed approximately 24,000 pounds and stood 13 feet tall at the shoulder. Most African elephants stand from 8.2 to 13 feet tall at the shoulder.
As of July 2014, there are between 450,000 and 700,000 African elephants in the world, and between 35,000 and 40,000 Asian elephants, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Both species are threatened not only by habitat loss, but also by poaching for the illegal ivory trade.
The Indian elephant is broadly distributed, but its main population group, which equals more than half the species' numbers, is in India with smaller populations in Borneo and the Andaman Islands. The population in Borneo was considered vestigial in 2015 and, in general, any population group outside
African elephants, the largest land animals on Earth, are found in sub-Saharan Africa. These elephants live in a range of climates on the African continent, from the Sahel desert in Mali to the rain forests of central and West Africa.
Elephants are herbivores so they eat things like fruit, bark and grasses. An adult elephant can eat more than 300 pounds of food per day.
As the largest land mammals on Earth, adult elephants consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. A variety of bark, fruits, grasses and roots make up the majority of an elephant's diet.
When elephants walk, each of their legs functions independently, according to John Hutchinson of London's Royal Veterinary College. Elephants position their legs directly under their bodies to support their extreme weight.