Elephant Research and Education Center

ศูนย์การศึกษาและวิจัยช้าง

Elephant Health Care




Chaleamchat Somgird D.V.M.,M.Sc.
Tulyawat Sutthipat D.V.M.
Waroot Wongkalasin D.V.M.
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Characteristics of healthy elephant

  1. Clear and bright eye, no eye discharge, pus and foreign body, the tear not stain on the face.
  2. Bright pink colored mucous membrane in oral cavity, tongue, nostrils (tip of trunk), anus and vulva.
  3. The ear and tail movement can observe in always time.
  4. The skin is smooth and soft, moisture in hydration
  5. Sweating can see in the coronet line above the toenail
  6. Normal eating in quantity and frequency of the food intake.
  7. Normal urinate and defecation, yellow colored urine and greenest colored feces (feces are various color depended on the food intake), and their frequency.
  8. No sleep in daytime, except a baby elephants (normally, elephants are sleep after midnight)
  9. Interest in the environments

Figure 1. Sweating on the coronet of a healthy elephant

Age estimation

We can estimate the elephant age with many characters, although it is difficult to estimate in young elephants. The elephant body is usually change with age and easily observed in old elephants. The details are explained at below.

  • slowly walking and movements.
  • can see the bone projections and their grooves in the head, the ribs and vertebral spine are observed too (also found in elephants have a chronic injury or infection).
  • opaque eye, corneal opacity, and close the eye in some time, visual ability is decrease with age.
  • wrinkly trunk, and the trunk movement reduce with age.
  • the amount of tears and folds in an ear increase with age.
  • wrinkly and rough skin in the body.
  • muscular hypotrophy, can see in the leg and buttock.
  • cracked nail, thicken skin arrange around a toenail or nail base.
  • loss of tail hair, rough and hard skin in the tip of tail.
  • rough feces mass, can see an indigested food in the feces mass.

Criteria for observation of ill elephant

  • slowly and softly ear flapping.
  • lethargy, close the eye.
  • non-sweating, dried coronet
  • pendular tail whipping, slow and soft movement.
  • frequently yawn, sleepless in the night
  • no or slow movement of the trunk
  • inappetite or anorexia
  • sleep in daytime, sleep in standing
  • weight loss, especially in young elephant