Elephants: nutrition and dietary husbandry


Ullrey DE, Crissey SD, Hintz HF. 1997 Elephants: nutrition and dietary husbandry. In Nutrition Advisory Group Handbook Fact Sheet 004


Elephants are the largest extant herbivores on earth. Although the average weight of adult Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) tends to be less than that of adult African elephants (Loxodonta africana), in the wild their weight ranges overlap (Asian, 1,800-5,000 kg [4,000-11,000 lb]; African, 1,800-6,000 kg [4,000-13,000 lb])33 and are influenced by age, sex, health, and food supply.1,19 Their nutrient needs have been studied very little. With the exception of energy requirements for basal metabolic functions and for maintenance,3 nutrient needs of elephants have been largely inferred from field studies of food plants and extrapolation of data from the horse.

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