|Species||L. africana, L. cyclotis; E. maximus|
The elephants are three species of very large mammals belonging to the family Elephantidae - the only extant family belonging to the order Proboscidea. The three elephant species currently recognized by scientists are the African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), and the Asian, or Indian, Elephant (Elephas maximus). Centuries of hunting elephants for their ivory has reduced the population of these animals. Renewed efforts at stewardship have caused a population boom, with the number of elephants in Africa alone tripling in the last decade.
Elephants are the largest land animals alive today. Apart from their massive size their most striking features are a long trunk, or proboscis, a flexible nose strong enough to lift objects, their huge ivory tusks, and their large flapping ears, used to keep them cool.
Bull elephants, when inclined to mate, enter a frenzied state called musth; they fight with each other for possession of the cow elephants, and become a menace to everything in their path; many humans are killed at this time. Elephants' gestation period, at 22 months, is the longest of any land mammal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 120 kg (265 lb). An elephant may live as long as 70 years, sometimes longer.
The largest elephant ever recorded (the Fenykovi elephant, now in the Smithsonian Institution) was shot in Angola in 1954. It was male and weighed about 10.7 tonnes (12 U.S. tons), with a shoulder height of 4 metres (13 feet, 2 inches). 
Uses of Elephants
Elephants (today generally Indian, but historically African elephants also) have been used as beasts of burden and draught animals, as mounts in processions and in war (notably by Hannibal), playing polo, and as circus performers. They are also popular for tourist rides in Thailand.
From a molecular and morphological point of view, hyraxes and Sirenians (sea cows and manatees) are the most similar living creatures to elephants, and these groups are hypothesized by evolutionists to have shared a common ancestor approximately 50 million years ago. Creationists say that each kind was separately created, and that two of the elephant kind were on board Noah's Ark, and from these all elephants alive today are descended.
The three extant species of elephant are sole survivors of a much more diverse Proboscidian fauna with some 170 described fossil species and including species of mammoth from North America and the massive Deinotherium, the second largest land mammal that ever lived, which sported two downward facing tusks. According to Young Earth Creationists, some extinct elephants may represent species that did not survive the Great Flood, while some other more recently extinct species represent descendents of the two on board Noah's Ark. Regardless, extinct and living elephants represent a distinct holobaramin separate from other mammals.
- A white elephant (from the historical veneration of such animals in Southeast Asia) is the term for a possession whose initial and upkeep cost exceeds its use (in most cases income), making it an overall liability.
- An elephant is the symbol of America's Republican Party.
- Hidenori Nishihara et al. A Retroposon Analysis of Afrotherian Phylogeny. Molecular Biology and Evolution 22: 1823-1833,