AnAge entry for Elephas maximus

Classification (HAGRID: 02473)

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia (Taxon entry)
            Order: Proboscidea
                Family: Elephantidae
                    Genus: Elephas
Elephas maximus
Common name
Asiatic elephant

Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits

Maximum longevity
79.6 years (captivity)
ref. 1192
Sample size
Data quality

Elephants are long-lived mammals but suffer from teeth erosion as a type of mechanical senescence despite having as much as six sets of molars in a lifetime. Although both sexes may become sexually mature at about 9 years of age, males do not normally reproduce until they are about 15 years old. Full size is attained at about 17 years of age [0434].

There is much speculation and anecdotes about the longevity of elephants with reports of animals living more than 80 years. In particular, it has been reported that a male elephant called "Lin Wang" died at the age of 86 in Taipei Zoo [0536]. This record is unconfirmed, however, because the animal was estimated to be 26 when it was obtained, which is impossible to verify. Another anecdotal record states that Dakshayani, who lived in captivity at the Chenkalloor Mahadeva Templein India, died at the age of 88 [1410]. Other reports of animals living over 70 years are plausible but have not yet been verified. Therefore, the oldest elephant on record was probably a wild born female, that lived in semi-captivity and that was about 79.6 years when she dies in 1995 [1192].

Several long lived mammals experience menopause. However, one study reported that whilst some Asian elephants have long post-reproductive lifespans, relatively few reach this stage. A decline in fertility generally matches a decline in survivorship. Unlike humans, while fertility does decrease after the age of 50, it does not cease altogether, and instead female elephants are still able to reproduce until the age of 65 [1192]. Asian elephants born in high stress seasons have been shown to exhibit faster reproductive ageing and reduced lifetime reproductive success [1193]. Additionally, a high early life reproductive output correlated with later life fecundity and offspring survival, but significantly impaired late-life survival [1194]. A more recent study on semi-captive animals has shown that Asian elephants have similar values of post-reproductive representation as other animals with long post-reproductive lifespans, like the short-finned pilot whale [1388].

A study comparing the elephant subspecies Sumatranus and 7 other species concluded that the rate of telomere shortening was a strong predictor of lifespan, unlike telomere length [1356].

Life history traits (averages)

Female sexual maturity
3,287 days
Male sexual maturity
3,287 days
644 days
Litter size
1 (viviparous)
Litters per year
Inter-litter interval
1,141 days
Weight at birth
107,000 g
Weight at weaning
Adult weight
3,178,000 g
Postnatal growth rate
Maximum longevity residual


Typical body temperature
309ºK or 35.8ºC or 96.4ºF
Basal metabolic rate
2336.5000 W
Body mass
3672000.0 g
Metabolic rate per body mass
0.000636 W/g


External Resources

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
ITIS 584938
Animal Diversity Web
ADW account
Encyclopaedia of Life
Search EOL
NCBI Taxonomy
Taxonomy ID 9783
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Ageing Literature
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Google Image search
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