Elephant surgeon getting scalpel with trunk

Dr. Longfellow, MD, performs surgery with his trunk

Elephants grow to be graceful in their movements. Adults have 100,000 muscle units in their trunk. African elephants have two finger-like tips on the end of their trunk. They can pick up small objects like a blade of grass or clumps of cut grass. But the trunk is also strong enough to uproot trees. Even calves can lift 4 1/2 times their body weight. Elephants use their trunks to greet each other, putting the trunk up to another elephant’s mouth.

Elephants typically have two gaits, walking and walking quickly. They are not considered to be able to run or gallop because one foot is on the ground at all times. Elephants are able to walk along a narrow path because their back feet generally fall in line on top of their forefoot print. This is more true for females and males will generally place their back feet somewhat outside of their forefoot.

Calves can be humorous learning to use their trunk. They may enjoy swinging their trunk back and forth or twirling their trunk into a circle (like a lasso). They like to experiment with touching various parts of their own body. They learn how to use their trunk more effectively to eat (and learn what to eat) by watching their mother and other elephants.

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