Elephants at Melbourne Zoo stand eating fig tree branches donated by Moonee Valley City Council.

UberEats for elephants

Friday, 17 May In

A trunk-load of fig trees from Ascot Vale have made the menu for Melbourne Zoo’s resident elephants.

Council worked with zookeepers to donate Marli (9-years-old; pictured) and Kulab’s (19-years-old; pictured) favourite food when we removed the fig trees as part of the Union Road streetscape upgrades

The supersized family feast was just right for the Zoo’s six elephants, who made short work of the tree treats – especially those with the roots still attached! 

Apparently, the fig trees are a bit of a delicacy for the ellies, who can eat up to 12 long branches a day. Talk about a jumbo appetite!

Zookeepers (and elephants) are extremely grateful for Council’s donation – apparently, these figs are hard to come by.

As well as figs, elephants’ favourite species for munching are Bamboo, Acacia, Coprosma (mirror bush), Wattle, Ficus, Sugarcane, Banana Palm, Ginger Lily, Elm, Elephant Grass, Pencil Pine, Poplar, Willow, Maple, Ash, and fruit trees such as apple, pear, and cherry – only organic of course!

Elephants spend up to 18 hours eating each day, so zoos are always looking for donations of tasty branches to keep them satisfied.

Is your garden free from gardening chemicals and due for a prune? Then you can donate some branches to Melbourne Zoo too! 

Just call 9285 9300 to leave your contact details and someone will get back to you to make sure they are the right snacks for the elephants.


Surprising elephant facts

1. Enterprising elephants. 
A group of elephants in Kenya have been discovered mining salt in underground caves! They feel their way around the dark caves using their trunks and break the salts off with their tusks so they can eat it!

2. Forgetting something?
You’ve heard the saying “an elephant never forgets” but how good really is there memory? Very good apparently! Three older elephants lead their herds to safety in a drought – by remembering the survival techniques their herd used 30-years prior! 

3. Meowwww!
As well as their well-known trumpet sound, elephants also purr much like cats! The low-pitched rumbles are one way they talk to each other. If you ever get the chance to stand next to a heard of elephants (yikes!) you might feel a strange vibration in your chest – that’s the purr! Elephants can also communicate over long distances using a subsonic rumble, which recipients pick up through their feet. 

4. A hard tusk master.
Have you got a favoured hand? Well elephants do too! Just like humans favour their left or right hands, elephants have a favourite tusk! They use their favourite tusk for tasks such as fighting, picking things up, and stripping vegetation from trees. Because of the uneven use, the favoured tusk will usually get shorter over time. 

5. Enviable eyelashes:
Drop the mascara - elephant eyelashes can grow up to five inches! And, whilst scientists are not 100% certain, there is some evidence to suggest that they cry tears of emotion! 

6. Lots of love for lost family.
When elephants walk past a place where another has died, they will often stop for many minutes, gently touching their skulls and tusks with their trunks and feet. Family members will often surround a dying relative, standing with it until long after it passes. After this, it is not uncommon for neighbouring herds to travel to visit the body.  

7. What about a game of jumbo jumpfrog?
Just kidding! Elephants can’t actually jump. Though they can reach speeds of up to 40km per hour, they’ll always keep one foot on the ground at all times. 

8. Big tusks = old elephant!
Elephant tusks never stop growing so giant tusks can be a sign of an elderly elephant. Both male and female African elephants can grow tusks, but only male Asian elephants will grow them. 

9. Mamamia!
Elephant mamas have got it tougher than most with the longest-known gestation period of any animal! African elephants have a gestation period of 22 months, while Asian elephants have a gestation period of 18 to 22 months. Phew! After almost two years, the mother will give birth to a calf that usually weighs around 110kgs!

10. Nimble nellies.
What weighs around 400 pounds and contains around 100,000 different muscles? An elephant’s trunk! But these mammoth appendages aren’t just butter fingers – they are nimble enough to pluck a single blade of grass!


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