How Long Do Elephants Live?

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The question ''How long do elephants live?'' is not one that is commonly discussed outside of biology circles. However, a brief look at the differences between how these creatures survive in the wild and in captivity reveals how long their average lifespan may be.

Lifespan in the Wild

The actual lifespan of elephants in the wild may be surprising to some. An elephant can live for as long as 60 or 70 full years. In fact, these creatures might be among the longest living mammals in the jungles of Africa and Asia.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

The life expectancy in the wild is based on a host of factors. Predation fits into the life expectancy and elephants are hunted by humans for their ivory tusks. This practice has, however, been curtailed somewhat, although poaching still occurs.

Elephants are not only killed for their ivory, they have long since been killed for their meat. Also, elephants can sometimes be a threat to agriculture so those who wish to protect their land and crops may do so by killing the elephants that venture too close. Fear of being attacked by elephants also leads to many killings.

The loss of habitat can endanger the life of an elephant. As is the case with much wildlife in Asia and Africa, human encroachment and agriculture cultivation can eat away at the habitat these animals live in. The result may be a shorter life expectancy. Areas where the habitat is better preserved leads to less risk for the elephants.

Lifespan in Captivity

Contrary to what some might have assumed, elephants live a shorter life span in captivity. The average life of an elephant in captivity is around 56 years. Of course, there is no hunting, poaching or risk of starvation in captivity. The animals also have access to veterinary care. Scientists attribute this to the added stress of being in captivity and the elephants not getting the exercise they need to live a healthy life.