Elephant gestational periods are known for being especially long. Elephants are pregnant for close to two years -- more than double the time for human beings. They normally have only one calf at a time, although there have been rare multiple births.
How Many Calves
Three species of elephants exist: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). Although they are very similar in many ways, they also have many differences, including size. But single calves are common all across the board. Although twins are not out of the question, they are extremely rare in the elephant world.
Right After Birth
Although young calves typically enter the world solo, they are already very sophisticated in terms of development. Not only can baby elephants stand on their own very soon after birth, their senses of smell and vision are already working. Because of this, elephants are classified as "precocial" animals. Nonetheless, most calves stay within a few feet of their mothers.
Weights at Birth
Elephants are massive, and not even their newborns are an exception. The "little ones" usually weigh anywhere from about 200 to 260 pounds upon birth. It's probably a good thing that multiple births are so uncommon in the elephant universe.
In 2010, an elephant gave birth to a pair of bouncing baby boys in Thailand's Surin area. At birth, Thong-Tang and Thong-Kum were reported to be in strong physical condition. When elephants do give birth to pairs of calves, the chances of survival are often not good. Carrying two calves makes huge nutritional demands on the mother.
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Elephas Maximus, Asiatic Elephant
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Elephant Reproduction Project
- SeaWorld: Elephants -- Reproduction
- Telegraph: World's First Set of Male Twin Elephants Born in Thailand
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Loxodanta Africana, African Bush Elephant
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Loxodonta Cyclotis, African Forest Elephant
- World Wildlife Fund: Elephant
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images