large terrestrial mammals with trunks from Africa and Asia
(Redirected from Elephantine)

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species (L. africana and L. cyclotis respectively). Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Elephantidae are the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; other, now extinct, families of the order include mammoths and mastodons. Male African elephants are the largest surviving terrestrial animals and can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). 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. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.

A female African Bush Elephant in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
Our lord the Elephant,
Chief of the ways of God
The people deck him like a docile king of elephants. ~ Rigveda

One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks.


  • An elephant can trumpet and shake the earth but not the self-possession of the ants who hold it.
  • Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant,
    The only harmless great thing.
  • His services are like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one's gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt.
    • G. E. Jewbury Letters 1892; this is the earliest known occurrence of "white elephant" in English, though references to Indian and Thai veneration of white elephants go back to at least the early 17th century. [1]
  • The torn boughs trailing o'er the tusks aslant,
    The saplings reeling in the path he trod,
    Declare his might — our lord the Elephant,
    Chief of the ways of God.
  • In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant — a new Elephant — an Elephant's Child — who was full of 'satiable curiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions.
  • Th' unwieldy elephant,
    To make them mirth, us'd all his might, and wreathed
    His lithe proboscis.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book IV, line 345, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 219.
  • Elephant-ear-witnesses-to-be of hymns
    and glorias, these ministrants all gray or
    gray with white on legs or trunk, are a pilgrims'

    pattern of revery not reverence — a
    religious procession without any priests,
    the centuries-old carefullest unrehearsed

  • Not that I think much depends
    On how we treat our feathered friends,
    Or hold the wrinkled elephant
    A nobler creature than my aunt.
    It's simply that I'm sure I can
    Get on without my fellow man.
  • 群盲評象
    • 涅槃経 (Nirvana Sutra)
    • Translation: A crowd of blind people evaluate an elephant.
    • A metaphor of unenlighted people and their relation to the right knowledge.
  • Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station the other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do something about it?
  • Women and elephants never forget an injury.
    • Saki, Reginald on Besetting Sins
    • Usually quoted as Elephants never forget; this is the original according to Dictionary of Proverbs and their Origin, L & R Flavell, Kyle Cathie Ltd. 1994; ISBN 1 85626 141 7, p. 88.
  • The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.
  • I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
    I saw a needle that winked its eye.
    But I think I will have seen everything
    When I see an elephant fly.

    I saw a front porch swing, heard a diamond ring,
    I saw a polka-dot railroad tie.
    But I think I will have seen everything
    When I see an elephant fly.

    I seen a clothes horse, he r'ar up and buck
    And they tell me that a man made a vegetable truck
    I didn't see that, I only heard
    But just to be sociable I'll take your word

    I heard a fireside chat, I saw a baseball bat
    And I just laughed till I thought I'd die
    But I'd be done see'n about everything
    when I see an elephant fly.

  • With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.
    • Attributed to von Neumann by Enrico Fermi, as quoted by Freeman Dyson in "A meeting with Enrico Fermi" in Nature 427 (22 January 2004) p. 297

Song: The Elephant by Michael Flanders

  • A elephant's life is tedious, laborious and slow;
    I've been an elephant all me life so I blooming well ought to know.
  • I'm an Introverted, Elephocentric, Hypochondriac,
    And I'll stick in the Elephant's nursing home
    Till I get me memory back!
  • I suffer from Schizophrenia
    It comes on me in spells
    Sometimes I'm King of Armenia
    At others I'm Orson Welles.
    I tell them I'm Napoleon
    and all that sort of bunk
    They never guess that all the time
    I'm laughing up me trunk!


  • Keep five yards from a carriage, ten yards from a horse, and a hundred yards from an elephant; but the distance one should keep from a wicked man cannot be measured.
    • Indian proverb, The Little Red Book of Horse Wisdom, p. 71
Wikinews has news related to this article:
  •   Encyclopedic article on Elephant on Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of elephant on Wiktionary
  •   Media related to Elephants on Wikimedia Commons
  •   Elephants travel guide from Wikivoyage