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elephant lifespan captivity

elephant lifespan captivity

elephant lifespan captivity

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what is the life expectancy of an elephant in captivity

The study, which compared female African elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park with those in zoos.
found that the wild elephants lived three times as long on average,
surviving to a median age of 56 years compared with 17 years for elephants living in captivity.

elephant seals lifespan

Females generally live for about 19 years, while males only live for about 13 years.
Females come ashore and within a few days give birth to a pup conceived in the previous breeding season.

elephant lifespan in captivity vs wild

The study, which compared female African elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park with those in zoos.
found that the wild elephants lived three times as long on average, surviving to a median age of 56 years compared with 17 years for elephants living in captivity.

Calculation of longevity and life expectancy in captive elephants


The concepts of longevity (longest lived) and life expectancy (typical age at death) are common demographic parameters that provide insight into a population.

Survival Strategies

To keep zoo elephants alive longer, the authors recommend routine screening for obesity.

(something that’s done in U.S. captive elephant populations), as well as monitoring stress via a chemical known as interleukin-6.

Checking this biological marker.

which shows that the body’s immune system is battling sickness, would allow zoo officials to intervene before the animal is seriously ill, Mason said.

Robert Wiese, collections director at the San Diego Zoo in California, was not part of this study.

He said making a comparison between the lifespan of captive and wild elephants may seem deceptively simple.

“There are just so many confounding issues, especially in small sample sizes [of] zoo animals.

that it’s hard to really separate and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples,” he said.

Huge Improvements

In 2004 Wiese co-authored a paper in the journal Zoo Biology showing the opposite of Mason’s findings:

that zoo elephants live as long as those in the wild.

He said that within the last decade accredited facilities have made huge improvements in the care of captive elephants by providing better nutrition to combat obesity.

as well as environmental enrichment activities that reduce stress.

“Typically anti-zoo critics throw … in our face the things that the zoo community has already identified as issues that we need to work on,” Wiese said.


Wild: Elephants in the wild live in large family units — sometimes with as many as 100 members .

— and have constant companionship.

Their intricate social networks have been studied for decades. Studies show elephants mourn the loss of a family member for several days.

Elephants have even been reported to “cry” upon the death of a family member or friend.

Captive: Forced to live in artificial social units of two or three — or in some cases kept alone — elephants in captivity are deprived of the basic necessity of family and socialization.

Any type of bond the animals might create is often broken, as zoos and circuses routinely shuffle elephants between facilities.


Wild: Wild elephants typically walk up to 40 miles a day.

Constant exercise is crucial to the health of these animals.

as their massive body weight puts enormous pressure on their joints and bones.

Captive: The effects of inadequate exercise on elephants are often deadly.

Elephants are frequently chained and forced to live on hard surfaces, such as concrete.

The small sizes of their enclosures and living out of train cars exacerbate this problem even further,

causing arthritis, foot abscesses, and other chronic foot and joint problems.

Life Span

Wild: Wild elephants have long life spans and typically live 60 to 70 years of age.

Captive: Captive elephants have significantly lower life spans than their wild counterparts and are usually dead before the age of 40.

Captive elephants suffer from chronic health problems, such as tuberculosis, arthritis, and foot abscesses, which nearly always lead to premature death.

Furthermore, attempts to breed in captivity have been largely unsuccessful.

Only three of 11 African elephant calves born in zoos since 1998 were still alive as of June 2003.

Of five Asian elephants born in the 12 months preceding June 2003, three are already dead.

Freedom From Abuse

Wild: Aside from humans, elephants have no natural enemies. When left alone, elephants are very peaceful creatures.

Captive: Elephants in captivity are routinely beaten, shocked, abused, and chained for long periods of time.

Despite claims by circuses and zoos that “tricks” performed by elephants are based on natural behavior, elephants in the wild do not stand on their heads.

balance or sit on stools, or walk only on their hind legs.

These behaviors are demeaning, unnatural, painful, and cause fear in elephants.

In order to make such an enormous animal behave in such an abnormal manner, they must literally be beaten into submission.

Wild vs. Captive Elephants

As one of the most intelligent mammals on the planet, elephants have immensely complex needs that no zoo.

circus or other attraction can provide.

Life in captivity is torture for these sensitive creatures that require tight social bonds and have strong migratory instincts.

Elephants have several basic needs that can never be met in captivity. 

Captivity shortens the lifespan of wild elephants

A new study published on July 7 in Nature Communications, a scientific journal, examined the effects of long-term captivity on wild timber elephants in Myanmar (1).

The study, performed by researchers from the University of Turku, Finland.

and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, compiled data from the detailed records held by the Myanmar government .

on the life-history of over 5 000 captive timber elephants between 1951–2000.

Based on this data, predictive modelling was used to demonstrate age-specific, adverse effects of capture on the mortality of wild Asian elephants.

What is the longest that an elephant has lived?

Elephants in Captivity: Do They Really Live Longer

Most of us have heard the controversy over whether animals live longer in captivity than the wild.

But is this statement actually factual or just something they use to defend what they are doing?

Or are the animals activists right in saying that animals in captivity, specifically elephants,

life expectancy is decreased in zoos because of the lack of space as well as the lack of animals that can be kept at once.

However, the current Guinness World Record holder for oldest elephant in captivity is Lin Wang.
The Asian elephant died at a zoo in Taiwan in 2003 aged 86.
and served with the British Army in World War Two. Another elephant, Indira, died in India’s Karnataka state in 2017 and was reportedly aged “between 85 and 90”.

Do zoos shorten elephant life spans?

Elephants are usually among the top attractions at zoos. The researchers found that the median life span for African elephants in European zoos was 16.9 years, compared with 56 years for elephants who died of natural causes in Kenya’s Amboseli park. …



The word “elephant” is based on the Latin elephas (genitive elephantis) (“elephant”).

Among African elephants, forest elephants have smaller and more rounded ears and thinner and straighter tusks than bush elephants and are limited in range to the forested areas of western and Central Africa

resource: wikipedia

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