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Tembo

Hi! My name is Tembo, and I am an African elephant. When most people think of elephants they picture me. But did you know that African elephants aren’t the only members of the elephant kind that God created?

Elephant Facts

In the elephant kind there are three (or possibly four) extinct members, and two living members. American mastodons, extinct today, were part of the elephant kind and had long hair, six 8-foot-long tusks, and smaller ears than elephants today. The wooly mammoth, also extinct today, had long hair, a wooly undercoat, smaller ears than elephants living today, and 13-foot-long tusks that curved inward. The extinct Gomphotheres were elephant kinds who had a long shovel-like lower jaw. Some researchers view the Deinotheriidae as a possible fourth elephant kind, while others consider them to be an extinct rhinoceros kind.1 The two members of the elephant kind that are still living today are African elephants and Asian elephants.

African elephants, like me, are wrinkly with only a little bit of hair on our heads and tails, huge ears, and five 8-foot-long tusks. Asian elephants are smaller than us African elephants, and they have much smaller ears than us, but still bigger than mastodon or mammoth ears. Like us, they also only have a little bit of hair on their head and tail, but they have smoother skin and tusks that are 4–5 feet long.

God created the elephant kind with so much variety that, for a time, there were elephants living in both really hot and really cold climates—and in between! Elephants, like me, should remind you of the incredible creativity of our Creator.

Here are some cool facts about African elephants:

  • We are the largest living land animals.
  • My ears are filled with blood vessels, which helps to cool me off.
  • Our skin is pretty sensitive, so we will roll around in the dust to keep bugs and the hot sun off our skin. We also love to splash around in the water to cool off.
  • My trunk can have up to 40,000 muscles in it! The human body only has about 640 in the whole body!
  • I use my tusks for digging and ripping bark. And just like people are right- and left-handed, we are left- or right-tusked!
  • Most people know that elephants trumpet, but did you know that we also “purr” (make really low-pitched rumbles) when we’re happy to see each other?

Class: Mammalia (mammal)
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantidea
Genus/Species: Loxodonta africana (African Elephant)
Size: 15 feet (4 m) high and 24.8 feet (7.5 m) long
Weight: 6.6 tons (6,000 kg)
Diet: Leaves, fruit, branches, bark, and grass
Habitat: African elephants live in savannahs, rainforests, and even deserts throughout sub-Saharan, central and West Africa.

Character Trait

My huge ears should remind you to “be all ears!” We need to listen to God’s Word and wise counsel. When the Bible says something, we need to listen up because God’s words to us are found in the Bible. But it isn’t enough to just listen to God’s Word. We also need to do it! Be wise—have ears that hear and do God's Word!

Verse

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).

Apologetics Focus

I want to remind boys and girls that God created all of the cool animals that live around us. Living in Africa, I get to see many of the animals God designed to live in the heat like hippos, lions, rhinos, zebras, and baboons. Each of these creatures, and so many more, has been carefully designed by God. Only an all-wise Creator could design the complexity that we see all around us. This couldn’t have just happened by chance—design requires a designer and that designer is God!

Now some people believe that variety in a kind (like the elephant kind) is an example of evolution because the elephant has changed. They say that an elephant and a mammoth are different, so evolution must have happened. But this isn’t evolution! This is just variety in one kind. Evolution needs one kind to change into another kind, like salamanders into snakes or dinosaurs into birds. In order for this to happen, brand new information needs to be added to the DNA (the language system) in the cells. But this can’t happen! Observational science shows us that information only comes from an information giver. When the information giver—our Creator God—made the elephant kind, He put lots of information in the DNA so that elephants could survive in a changing world. That’s why, for a time, the elephant kind could live in hot and cold climates. This has nothing to do with evolution. It’s an example of our Creator’s wisdom!

Learn More

You can learn more about elephants, watch a video, color an elephant picture, or see a poster of the different elephants in the elephant kind at the links below.

1Michael Brandt, “Stone Tools from the Early Tertiary in Europe—A Contradiction to Any Evolutionary Theory About the Origin of Man and to Long Geological Periods of Time,” Answers Research Journal 6 (2013): 231–264, https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/ancient-technology/stone-tools-from-the-early-tertiary-in-europea-contradiction-to-any-evolutionary-theory-about-the-or/.