Tony Sellwood of Balclutha Primary School asks :-

How long do elephants live?

Jean Arnott and Alex Davies, of Massey University's School of Veterinary Science, responded.

The oldest known elephant is Jessie, a female who lives in the Toronga Zoological Park in Sydney, Australia. Jessie is 69 years of age. Generally elephants are considered old in the 51 to 60 year age bracket.

It is possible there are many elephants older than this since wild elephants live longer than domestic ones. This is because of a number of reasons. Wild elephants roam a vast territory and therefore get more exercise than a captive one. Elephants function naturally in herds of about ten and females never normally leave their herd. Captive elephants can end up in cold climates, with a less varied diet than that available in the wild, and in contact with new, human, diseases.

There are several indicators of an elephant's age. One is the size of its tusks. Although Asian female elephants have no tusks, both the male and female African elephants do. The second indicator of an animal's age is found in its ears. Between birth and the age of nine, young elephants have no rolling of the ears. From 10 to 30 years of age they have around two and a half centimetres of ear roll. Between 30 and 60 years of age elephants have from two and a half to five centimetres of rolled ear.