What’s the acronym for an animal that is Endearing, Loyal, Elegant, Powerful, Heavy, Amusing, Noble and Talented? Why ELEPHANT, of course! For all these reasons listed above, Wayne Hepburn, owner of Mission Media, a graphics and publishing company in Florida, started National Elephant Appreciation Day on September 22, 1996. Mr. Hepburn’s love of elephants first began in 1970, when his then 12-year-old daughter gave him a special gift - a paperweight whose base was encircled by a parade of elephants. Over the next 26 years his collection of elephant figurines grew to almost 2000! He read about elephants, studied them, rode them, but most importantly, honored them as one of the world’s most intelligent, most gentle and most noble mammals.
Unfortunately, elephant populations have dropped by 62% over the last decade due to illegal poaching, trade of ivory and environmental factors. All the more reason to celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day to support the love of these amazing animals.
Fun ways to celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day
Have an Elephant Appreciation Day Party and serve a special elephant cake. For a guide to create an Elephant Cake, click here.
Visit your local zoo
Make a donation to one of the many organizations devoted to promoting the welfare and conservation of elephants. Learn how to get involved at WorldElephantDay.org
Make an Elephant Face Mask
Three paper plates
Paint or markers
First paint the bottom of the paper plate. Cut the other paper plate in half for the ears. Using the third plate, cut out the textured part of the plate to make the trunks.
Paint (or color) the rest of the pieces.
Staple pieces together to make an elephant.
Cut out small holes for eyes and small holes behind the ears to attach the yarn.
How Elephant Appreciation Day Unites People
People love elephants because they are so similar to humans! Elephants are very social and can cry, play, and laugh. They have amazing recollection due to the size of their extremely large hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are stored. They are one of the few animals that possess self awareness and like humans, can recognize themselves in a mirror. Elephants are glamourous as well, boasting the longest eyelashes in the world - about 5 inches long!
Here are some other fun facts about these fascinating creatures
An elephant’s trunk is complex, with 40,000 muscles and tendons.
It takes an elephant about one year to learn how to properly use its trunk.
Remember all those cartoons and photos you’ve seen of elephants picking up peanuts with their trunks? Not accurate at all. Elephants do not like peanuts!
An elephant would make a great addition to any basketball team. Despite weighing thousands of pounds, elephants are very quick and nimble. They can move up to 35 mph and stop on a dime. Just think of the hook shot an elephant could make with that trunk!
One factor that might prevent them from making the team is that elephants are the only mammals that cannot jump.