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Elephants Live Longer in the Wild, Study Shows

  • Friday, December 12, 2008

Elephants have a much longer lifespan in the wild than in captivity, according to a new study from Science.

The study, which compared female African elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park with those in zoos, found that the wild elephants lived three times as long on average, surviving to a median age of 56 years compared with 17 years for elephants living in captivity. The findings were similar for Asian elephants kept in captivity to support the logging industry.

Common health problems for elephants in zoos include herpes, tuberculosis, arthritis, and obesity. The effect of captivity on this highly intelligent, social and wide-ranging species also likely has psychological effects, as sometimes evidenced by unusual aggressiveness or repetitive behaviors.

The findings of this study highlight the importance of implementing conservation strategies that ensure elephants and other species have the space and resources they need to thrive. Through its Africa Heartland Program, AWF works to combine parks, private lands and community areas into large conservation landscapes that give elephants and other wildlife the room they need to thrive. It is our belief that such large-landscape conservation is the soundest strategy for securing the future of Africa's magnificent wildlife across the continent.

To read more about AWF's elephant conservation work, click here.

To read learn more about elephants, click here.

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