A circus retiree, the Dallas Zoo’s elephant Congo is called smart, investigative, and inquisitive and is enjoying exploring all of the new things she can do at the savanna. She loves to munch on bamboo, stripping layers of fibers and leaves off for a good chew, and enjoys regular pedicures with toenail filing, explains the Dallas Zoo in describing their Elephants on the Savanna exhibit. .
For all my love of elephants, I never considered their diet — specifically do they eat meat? One thinks of elephants as being herbivores, but is that actually a fact? The question was front and center in my mind, after planting a little garden in the tummy of our new GlamTribal Garden Party Elephant Pendant.
Elephants are primarily herbivores, spending 16 to 19 hours a day eating and looking for food. An elephant’s diet in the wild is comprised of 50% grasses that are supplemented with twigs, leaves, bamboo, roots, bark and small amounts of seeds, flowers and fruits.
Because elephants digest between 40-50% of the food they consume, they must compensate for this rare elephant deficiency with volume. Then we have the size of these elephants and supporting their girth required them to eat between 330 and 375 lbs. of vegetation daily. Elephants love tree bark because it contains roughage and calcium, which aids digestion.
Yes, elephants eat dirt, which is rich in minerals such as calcium, salt and other trace elements. In June 2012, Scientific American reported that geophagia may be considered an eating disorder among modern-day humans, but it’s widespread in the animal kingdom. Another theory of why elephants eat dirt postulates that it’s part of a detox process.
Another interesting factoid is that elephants’ constant grinding of bark and other vegetation wears out their back teeth, pushing out a new set of teeth for a total of six sets in an elephant’s lifetime. The final set of work out teeth signals an elephant’s mortality, as the creature becomes weak due to lack of food. Eventually starvation and weakness ensues.
Elephants drink between 18 and 26 gallons of water per day, but they often consume up to 40 gallons depending on the temperature. Adult male elephants might drink up to 55 gallons of water in less than five minutes.
This fascinating article from the Dallas Zoo about the challenges of keeping the more than 2000 animals at the zoo healthy is worth the read.
Elephant keeper Samantha Scrudato hides food like zucchini in an imitation African fig tree to help mimic how the pachyderms would forage in the wild. The elephants mostly eat high-fiber hay and are generally the most expensive to keep — about $15,000 a year each — because of how much they eat, Slifka said.
The four elephants are offered 125 pounds of food a day, not including trees and bushes.
Personally, I so love this new pendant with a little garden in the elephant’s tummy — note that she is pretty from both sides — that a collection is on my brain. The cage also works well beaded as necklaces and not a pendant.