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Asian Elephant: here’s the scoop

threats

Elephants require much larger areas of natural range than many other terrestrial mammals; therefore they are often the first species to suffer the consequences of habitat fragmentation and destruction. Elephants are also considered a pest and a danger in areas of agriculture and suffer from poaching and human conflict. There has been an overall population decline of at least 50% over the last three generations (or roughly ~75 years).

Committed to Conservation

The Buttonwood Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Asian Elephants. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations within AZA accredited zoos to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

Buttonwood Park Zoo supports numerous Asian elephant field conservation projects, donating over $19,000 in the past several years to assist rehabilitated wild elephants, provide funding for advanced education for field veterinarians in Vietnam, and to protect habitat and reconnect the forest homes for endangered Asian elephants.

The Asian elephant is an AZA Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Signature Species. AZA’s SAFE program focuses the collective expertise within AZA accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species.  Between 2011 and 2015 more than $8.1 million was directed towards Asian elephant conservation. 29 AZA accredited facilities, including Buttonwood Park Zoo, reported spending nearly $1.6 million specifically to protect and conserve Asian elephants.

Insider Info

At 61 years old, Ruth is one of the oldest Asian elephants at an AZA accredited facility. Emily, 55 years old, has been the largest and most popular New Bedford resident who has been here at the Buttonwood Park Zoo for 51 years. Their vitality and health in their advanced age is a testament to the high level of care we provide for these magnificent animals.

Emily, the larger of the two, weighs in at roughly 8,700 pounds while Ruth weighs around 6,400 pounds. These beautiful ladies receive about 150 lbs of hay, 20 lbs of grain, 20 lbs of produce and 25 – 100 lbs of browse (maple, bamboo, etc) each day!! Their favorite treats include alfalfa cubes, dried fruit, watermelon and sugar cane. 

Species

Asian Elephant

Scientific name

Elephas maximus

Habitat

Grassland, tropical evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forest, and dry thorn forest, in addition to cultivated and secondary forests and scrublands

Diet

Herbivorous. They are generalists that browse and graze on a variety of plants, browse and grasses

Life Expectancy

50+ years, but this number varies greatly

Did you know?

Elephants are the largest living land animal. Compared to African elephants, Asian elephants are smaller, typically lack the iconic tusks, have smaller ears and only have one “finger” at the end of their trunk!

Range

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Conservation status

Endangered

High risk of extinction in the wild