elephant. Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Male African elephants are the largest surviving land animals and can reach a height of 4 m and weigh 7,000 kg. All elephants have several distinctive features the most notable of which is a long trunk or proboscis, used for many purposes, particularly breathing, lifting water and grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants' large ear flaps help to control their body temperature. Their pillar-like legs can carry their great weight. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.
Elephants can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. Other animals usually keep their distance, predators usually target only the young elephants (or "calves"). Females ("cows") tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow. Elephants have a fission-fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialize. Males ("bulls") leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate and enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance and reproductive success. Calves are the center of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past they were used in war; today, they are often put on display in zoos and circuses.
Before Africa Park, elephants became an endangered species because of the ivory trade, as the animals were killed for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants included habitat destruction and conflicts with local people.