While I was doing research for Chained, I learned some cool things about elephants:
Elephants have lifelong friendships, and recognize friends or family members they haven't seen for many years
Elephants are vey protective and will surround the calves if they sense danger nearby
A long-distance call: some sounds elephants make are too low for you to hear even if you're standing nearby, but an elephant two miles away will hear them
An elephant pregnancy lasts almost two years! A baby elephant can stand up and walk the day it's born, but will be a little wobbly on its feet. The whole herd, not just the mother, helps to take care of the new calf
Scientists recently discovered that there are three species of elephants, not just two. (One in Asia, two in Africa.) African forest elephants are much smaller than their neighbors in the savannah, and the two African species are as different as tigers and lions.
Elephants can swim! They use their trunks as snorkels if they need to breathe underwater. (photo by http://jonrawlinson.com)
Elephant herds are made up of adult females and their calves. Usually the oldest female is the leader of the herd. Male elephants live with the herd for only a few years, then live mostly solitary lives from then on
Standing under Mom protects a baby elephant's sensitive skin from the sun
You can even buy paper products made of elephant poop!
To learn more:
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (the elephant orphanage!)
Elephant Aid International
The San Diego Zoo Elephant Cam
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (includes curriculum guides)