Asian elephants are native to South East Asia where they live across several varying habitats including grasslands and different types of forests.
Asian elephants are classified as 'endangered' on the International Union for Conservation in Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict over farmland and being poached for their ivory tusks.
Dublin Zoo is part of a European breeding programme for the Asian elephant to try and protect the endangered species from extinction.
Elephants are the largest land mammal, African elephants being the largest followed in second place by Asian elephants. They are pachyderms, i.e. their skin is very thick. They have a long trunk, wide flat ears and columnar legs. Male Asian elephant also have tusks.
Asian Elephants are native to South East Asia, and can still be found in 13 countries in that region, ranging from sea level up to 3,000 metres. They have a very varied habitat consisting of grassland, tropical evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, deciduous forest and dry thorn forest, and their home ranges can be in excess of 600 km².
60-70 years in the wild and up to 80 years in zoos
Due to their size elephants require huge quantities of food, and may spend 14-19 hours a day feeding. They feed mainly on grasses, but also on tree bark, roots and leaves and can consume up to 150kg of food per day. They are also partial to cultivated crops such as bananas, rice and sugarcane.
The elephant’s closest living relatives are the rock hyrax (a small furry mammal that lives in rocky landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa and along the coast of the Arabian peninsula) and sea cows (dugongs and manatees).