Hello, my name is Amani! Amani means peace in Swahili and I am an African elephant. I am two years old, and I live in a zoo with my herd, or family. My herd includes my mother, my father, my mom’s sister (my aunt), and her four-year-old son (my cousin!). We have a large enclosure that we can walk around and eat grass, fruit, and roots that our wonderful keepers leave around our enclosure for us to forage for.
Momma says it is just like how our relatives who live in Africa eat. We also have a big lake in our enclosure where my cousin and I can splash around and spray each other with our trunks. Momma and my aunt find it funny as long as we don’t spray them! We also have a big red rubber ball that we kick around and chase and other large toys to keep us busy and active.
About African Elephants
Since we are all African elephants, both boys and girls have tusks! I had “baby tusks” when I was little, but they fell out about a year ago. I am now growing my “adult tusks” which will grow for my entire life! It’s just like human kids like you and how your baby teeth fall out, and you grow adult teeth. My tusks are so cool! I use them for digging, foraging, and even play-fighting with my cousin. Momma usually breaks us up pretty quickly, but its all in good fun!
You should see how big my daddy’s tusks are! He even uses his tusks to rest his trunk on! Mine aren’t big enough yet, but I can’t wait to do that too! Although my trunk is still small, I can even do some pretty neat tricks with it! I can suck up water and spray it all over my back when I am too hot, I can use the tip of my trunk like you would use your fingers and pick up small branches and bunches of grass. But my favorite thing I can use my trunk for is to hug my momma, and I get hugs from her trunk in return!
About My Home
The zoo I live at is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (or AZA). Zoos, like the one I live in, are an essential part of helping the efforts to conserve endangered animals, like elephants! Endangered means that there are less and less of us that are living out in the wild and we are at risk of being extinct, which means there would be no more left and conserve means to protect or save from harm.
The zookeepers take such good care of us here! We get weekly showers, plenty of healthy food, and a large, clean enclosure for us to live, play, and roam. They even have a special animal doctor, called a veterinarian, who works at the zoo and can come to help my family or me if we get sick or get a boo-boo. Like a lot of zoo animals I was bred and born in captivity here at the zoo & I love living here. There are so many people who come to see my family and me. The people who work here teach the visitors about us and how important conservation is for the future of not only elephants but other animals as well.
Want to know how you can help endangered animals like elephants? Some ways to help are to visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums (https://www.aza.org/find-a-zoo-or-aquarium). Learn as much as you can about us and our needs and suggest to your parents to buy certified fair trade coffee which is grown without destroying our natural habitats. Boycott any zoos/circuses that still use elephants & other animals for entertainment, like for rides, as the animals are usually mistreated.
You can even adopt an elephant! No, you can’t keep them in your room or backyard, but you can help support elephant conservation efforts and also get a picture of “your” elephant! World Wildlife Foundation, World Animal Foundation, Born Free, and Defenders of Wildlife all have adoption programs and are an excellent place to start!