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How are baby elephants raised?

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“For elephants, raising young is a family business. The group is made up of related females, whether they’re sisters or daughters. The eldest females take the lead, using everything they’ve learnt to help them survive. And, of course, there are the calves.”

See how a herd raises baby elephants, teaching them through play and protecting them from predators. This BBC Earth video, a clip from the BBC’s Dynasties II, shares one herd’s journey across Amboseli National Park in Kenya to find food and water.

Along the way, the calf’s mother provides nutrient-rich milk. Though a baby will graze on solids after 3 months, it will continue to nurse for its first two years.

new trunk
the herd's journey
Plus, an example of their social structures via The Washington Post: What elephants can teach us about the importance of female leadership.

“At Amboseli, the elephant family unit, consisting of a mother and her immature young, sometimes along with sisters, aunts and grandmothers, is the core of elephant society. Within family groups, which range in size from two to more than 20, the oldest, most experienced female takes the lead. But group size is constantly changing, responding to the seasons, the availability of food and water, and the threat from predators. An adult female elephant might start the day feeding with 12 to 15 individuals, be part of a group of 25 by mid-morning, and 100 at midday, then go back to a family of 12 in the afternoon, and finally settle for the night with just her dependent offspring. Known as a fission-fusion society, it is a complex social dynamic relatively rare in the animal kingdom but not uncommon in primates, including humans.”

elephant babies
Watch more videos about elephants, including:
• The incredible, bendable, twistable, expandable elephant trunk
• Elephant Architects of the Okavango
• Elephants’ Incredible Intelligence
• How Elephants Listen … With Their Feet
• Elephant mom wisdom and sparrow songs: Is culture common in the animal world?

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