A program in Africa saves baby elephants. The animals are cared for until they can live on their own.
An elephant keeper in Zambia feeds a baby elephant.
Thousands of adult African elephants are killed each year. Hunters want their tusks. The tusks are used to make jewelry and other items. Many baby elephants are left behind when their mothers are killed.
Elephant calves, or babies, are big. A newborn stands just over three feet tall. It weighs about 220 pounds. Normally, adult elephants feed and care for calves for two years after they are born.
The Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) gives baby elephants a home. It is at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, in Zambia, in Africa. Keepers care for the calves. They teach them how to act with other animals, including other elephants.
Then the calves are taken to Kafue National Park. It is also in Zambia. When the calves are ready, they are set free in the wild.
Oliver Munyama is one of the keepers in the Elephant Orphanage Project.
For the elephant keepers, saying goodbye is hard. “We free them and feel happy for them because they will soon go back in the bush,” Oliver Munyama says. He is an EOP keeper. “We will miss them, but that is the way it is supposed to be.”
This is an African elephant calf. Look at its fuzzy hair!
SUPAT SUTTI—GETTY IMAGES
Did you know there are two kinds of elephants? One is the African elephant. The other is the Asian elephant. One way to tell the animals apart is by their ears. An African elephant has large ears. An Asian elephant’s ears are smaller.
African and Asian elephants are both mammals. Mammals are a group of animals that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. Mammal mothers feed their babies their milk. All mammals have hair or fur. If you look closely, you can see that elephants have a little bit of hair. It is on their heads, chins, and tails.
Why would it be hard for the elephant keepers to say goodbye?
Study the diagram. It tells about the parts of an African elephant. Then answer the questions.
TUI DE ROY—MINDEN PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES
1. True or false: African elephants have small ears.
2. Which body part do elephants use to carry and lift things?
3. What is one way elephants use their tusks?
4. What do elephants eat?