Elephants are the largest land animals in the world. Male African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana, the largest of all elephant species) stand 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) tall (at the shoulder) on average and weigh around 6 metric tons. Females stand about 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) on average at the shoulder with a body mass of about 3 metric tons. So, their mass is enormous, and because of this, the elephants can’t jump, despite having powerful legs.

Elephants cannot jump – they even don’t run!

Elephants are just too heavy to make a leap, so they cannot jump. Furthermore, they even don’t run, technically! They never get all four feet off the ground at once, even when moving fast or charging at full speed. So, their “running” can be described as a powerwalk. Like a race-walking athlete at the Olympics – one foot is always on the ground.

Elephants cannot jump. A running African Bush elephant
Elephants cannot jump because of their huge body mass. Here is a running African Bush elephant. Since at least one foot is on the ground while an elephant is “running”, or moving fast, technically, it’s not “running”. Image source: Deposit Photos

Elephants don’t need to jump… or run

The great leapers of the animal kingdom often evolve that skill as a way of avoiding predators (kangaroos, for example), or contrarily, to become a better hunter (i.e. tigers). Elephants are so big that they don’t have natural enemies. Plus, since they are herbivores, they don’t hunt. So they don’t need to jump.

And even without technically running, they can move as fast as 40 km/h (25 mph). That’s fast enough to pursue predators that threaten their young.

A running baby elephant
A running cute baby elephant. Since at least one foot is always on the ground, technically, it’s not “running”. Image source: Deposit Photos


M. Özgür Nevres

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