It’s time to dive into elephant-astic fun facts in celebration of Aanika’s Elephants! Aanika’s Elephants is a show about a young Kenyan girl Aanika who befriends a baby elephant she names Little. Their bond of sisterhood shows that a family can be anything—an animal sanctuary, a herd of hunted elephants, an orphaned girl and calf.

From a team of acclaimed Sesame Street writers and puppeteers, the stirring story of Aanika’s Elephants entertains and educates on the present-day plight of Africa’s elephants.

Without further ado, it’s time for some trivia ahead of your performance at the New Victory Theater!

Elephant Fun Facts

Addo Elephant
[Addo Elephant National Park / Image from Wikipedia]
  • Three different kinds of elephants exist: the African savanna elephant, the African forest elephant and the Asian elephant. [Nat Geo Kids]
  • Elephants are one of the only mammals that cannot jump. Their legs are not big enough to propel their bodies upwards. 
  • Elephants have about 150,000 muscle units in their trunk. They can use their trunk like a snorkel when they swim, which means they can breathe while submerged in water!
  • An elephant’s strength is in its trunk! An elephant can use its trunk to kill a lion, but the trunk is also gentle and can be used for affection, like when an elephant nestles a baby calf. []
  • Elephants can feed for 16 hours a day. They need to eat about 300 pounds of food a day, but they can eat up to 600 if they’re hungry!

African Savanna Elephant Fun Facts

a bush elephant
[African Bush Elephant / Image from Wikipedia] 
  • The African savanna elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. Adult bulls weigh about 13,000 pounds on average!
  • Another name for the African savanna elephant is “the African bush elephant.”
  • African elephants typically reside in open areas like forests and grasslands in Africa. [Seneca Park Zoo]
  • Asian elephant ears are small and are in the shape of India. [Nat Geo Kids]
  • Out of all the countries in the world, African savanna elephants are found in 23 countries, especially southern and eastern African countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya and Botswana.[]
  • Illegal poaching in Africa kills over 20,000 elephants per year due to demand for their ivory tusks. This poaching leaves many elephant calves abandoned and without families.

Elephants in Pop Culture

Photo of Disney's Dumbo
[Photo of Disney’s Dumbo / Image from Wikipedia]
Elephants have existed in pop culture for decades in mostly film and television for kids. There’s even a fun connection to Aanika’s Elephants!

  • Babar the Elephant is a book series created by French author and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff in 1931. After Babar’s mother is killed, Babar escapes and has great adventures in a big city. He returns home to the jungle and shares knowledge about civilization with his friends. The series spawned a television series, making its U.S. debut on HBO in 1989.
  • One of the most well-known elephant characters in pop culture is Dumbo, the star of the 1940’s Disney film of the same name. Dumbo is made fun of for his extraordinarily large ears until he realizes he can use his ears to fly! If you want an extra dose of Dumbo, you can catch the 2019 live-action reimagining by director Tim Burton.
  • Mr. Snuffleupagus, also known as “Snuffy,” made his character debut in 1985 on the PBS children’s television series Sesame Street. Snuffy is portrayed by actor Martin P. Robinson, the production, set, puppet and costume designer of the show Aanika’s Elephants! []
  • A Heffalump is an adorable elephant-like character that appears in the Winnie the Pooh canon and  in the television show The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • Water For Elephants hit the Broadway stage in 2024, which is based on the 2011 film of the same name. The 2024 musical adaptation features puppetry to represent the elephant, just like Aanika’s Elephants!

Inside Elephant Sanctuaries

Santuary map
[Photo of sanctuary map / Image from Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary]
  • Sanctuaries rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild to help maintain the survival of this endangered population.
  • The most popular and well-known elephant sanctuary in Africa is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. This elephant orphanage offers tours for visitors every day. [Fauna Travel]
  • There’s an elephant sanctuary a shorter plane ride away! One elephant sanctuary, The Performing Animal Welfare Society, is located in Northern California, and another one, The Elephant Sanctuary, is located in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
  • In terms of the elephant population, there are 415,000 elephants left in Africa. In the 1930s there was 10 million elephants in Africa. []
  • Aanika’s Elephants was inspired by elephant sanctuaries in Kenya. Annie Evans, Aanika’s playwright, studied the majestic animals in Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park.

Words to know before Aanika’s Elephants

Photo of Aanika and Little
[Photo of Aanika and Little / Image from Zach Hyman]
  • Janu: Hindi name for soul or life force
  • Asante sana: Swahili for “thank you very much”
  • Sanctuary: a place of refuge or safety; a nature reserve
  • The bush: a large, undeveloped area with natural plants and wildlife, typically in Africa and Australia

Now that you know more about African elephants, you’re ready to sit back, relax and enjoy the show with your family. If you haven’t booked your tickets for Aanika’s Elephants yet, check out the remaining performances here.

Check out the trailer below:

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