Scientific Name: elephas maximus
Habitat: grasslands, marshes, savannas, and forests
Diet: bamboo, grasses, trees and shrubs
Life Span: 70 years
Young: 1 calf every 4 – 9 years
Size: males 2,700 – 5,000 kg; females are smaller

The Asian Elephant is distributed throughout southeast Asia from India in the west, to Borneo in the east, and are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Asian Elephants wrinkled skin is usually grey, and very thick (18 mm). Their distinctive trucks are an elongation of the nose and upper lip, and are an average of 1.5 – 2 m long. Males have tusks, but females do not. Asian Elephants are smaller than African Elephants.

Asian Elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years; though at one time they were primarily used for transportation and logging, they are now most widely used in the tourism industry and for religious ceremonies.

The Asian Elephant population is critically low in the wild. This decline in numbers is primarily due to habitat loss caused by logging, settlement, mining, farming, and hydroelectric projects. Although elephants are revered in many of the Asian countries, they are sometimes culled for human safety. 

To learn more about Asian Elephants, visit Animal Diversity Web, or stop by the Edmonton Valley Zoo to meet Lucy!


Lucy came to the Edmonton Valley Zoo in 1977 as a two-year-old orphan. Lucy is a calm, well-adjusted animal. Most days, you will find Lucy and her caretakers out on walks, meandering through the Edmonton Valley Zoo meeting new friends.

As a simple method of enriching her life, Lucy began painting in the early 1990’s. Painting has since become a way for Lucy to express herself. She is now among the dozens of elephants around the world who showcase their art in top galleries. The work of painting elephants commands top prices, and each painting is as individual and unique as the animal that created it.

Each painting begins with the zookeepers mixing the colours (Lucy uses only non-toxic acrylic paints). Lucy has graduated from having the paintbrush placed in her trunk to choosing the brush herself. She paints as much as she wants with a certain colour, and once she is finished she hands the brush back to her keeper. The colours used and the brush strokes depend highly on Lucy’s own mood. Each piece is very different, but they all show similar lines, circles and dabs. Lucy definitely has her own style!

Lucy’s paintings have been showcased in several art shows. The Valley Zoo is proud of Lucy’s success and will continue to encourage her growth as an artist.

85% of the proceeds from the sale of Lucy’s art stay at the Edmonton Valley Zoo to be utilized for new exhibits. Proceeds from Lucy’s art also help elephants around the world, with 15% each year going to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the International Elephant Foundation to support conservation work.

Please visit for information on efforts to ensure the long term survival of elephants.