Elephants are one of the largest land mammals! Almost 80% of their day is spent eating. They eat several hundred pounds of food daily, including roots, shrubs, branches, and fruits. The other part of the elephants' day is spent sleeping and socializing. Elephants sleep only 2 hours a day, but rest from 4 to 6. The rest of the elephants' day is for socializing. Elephants are very social animals and often sway side-to-side to distract themselves from a lack of social engagement.
Elephant Body Language
Elephants communicate through many ways. One way you can tell what an elephant is thinking is through body language. If an elephant is happy, its tail will be swishing from side-to-side. When elephants have lazy, half closed eyes, it is relaxed. If an elephant's tail is stiff and held out to one side, it means the elephant is nervous. When an elephant turns its head straight at you, with its ears extended and held out at its sides, the elephant is trying to look bigger and intimidate you. This is a sign that you should leave the elephant alone. Trumpeting from an elephant is generally not a good sign. It usually means an elephant is distressed or upset.
The Phajaan Process is the process almost always used to teach elephants to paint, do tricks, or be ridden. The elephant will be separated from its mother at a young age, and be chained into a small space. Often, elephants get nails pushed into their skin and hit by the humans. The purpose is to crush the elephants spirit to the point where it has no other choice but to obey humans. Not all places use the Phajaan Process, but use positive reinforcement. This is rewarding elephants for cooperating and doing the tricks.
Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus
EEHV is a virus every elephant carries. The elephant is not always affected by it, but if an elephant is affected at a young age, it will most likely die from it within a few hours or days of the virus being recognized by humans. There is no way to tell if an elephant will be affected or not, because there are no warning signs of the virus coming into effect. Because there is no cure, EEHV is responsible for over half the young elephant deaths in zoos across the United States.