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The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

Have you met Zed?

"Zed" is our newly discovered Columbian mammoth, and the most complete mammoth skeleton we've ever found.
Learn More

Mammalogy Contacts

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Marine Mammals

Jim Dines, Ph.D.
Collections Manager
(213) 763-3400

David Janiger
Curatorial Assistant
(213) 763-3369


Savanna elephant

Loxodonta africana (Blumenbach, 1797)

Savanna elephant diorama in the African Mammal Hall


 Waterhole near the Tana River, Kenya


 Maurice A. Machris and the Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation

Background artist:

 Duncan Alanson Spencer

Also present:

 Vulturine Guinea Fowl (Acryllium vulturinum),
Sandgrouse (Pterocles sp.),
Cape buffalo,

African elephants are the largest living land mammals. At birth an elephant calf weighs 265 lbs, after a gestation period of 22 months (the longest of any land animal). Elephants may live up to 70 years. The average adult elephant weighs 15,400 lbs. The largest elephant ever recorded was shot in Angola in 1972 and weighed 26,400 lbs.

In 1979 there were 1.3 million African elephants. In 2005 there were about 600,000 left in the wild. The decline is due mainly to poaching and habitat reduction.

There are two forms of African elephants—the savanna elephant and the slightly smaller forest elephant. The forest elephant had been regarded as a subspecies of the savanna elephant but recent DNA studies show that it belongs to the separate species Loxodonta cyclotis. Some authorities also recognize a pygmy elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis pumilio), a subspecies of the forest elephant.that is found in the forests of Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Biological Information

Range map for the savanna elephant


Sub-Saharan Africa


All major habitat types




Browse with some grass

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for African elephant.