Elephants are the largest mammals living on Earth today, which could grow up to thirteen feet or 3.96 meters high. Records show that there are three known elephant species – the African bush elephant, African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. Furthermore, there are several extinct elephant species today, including the mammoths.
Despite their humongous body, it is evident that elephants are calm and gentle creatures. It is also the reason why there are people who own them as a pet, mainly in some countries in Asia.
Interestingly, elephants are sometimes considered as sacred animals by some people. However, this so-called holy animal is not just any ordinary elephant, but rather a white elephant. There are many claims and myths about the existence of white elephants; some people say that the white color signifies purity, thus making it sacred.
Out of all these claims, let us find out – do white elephants exist? If yes, where can we find them?
Do white elephants exist?
The existence of elephants is apparent to us humans since they are already a part of our pop culture through the years. Furthermore, elephants are sometimes a sacred religious icon, which people worshipped. This act of worshipping is common in white elephants, mainly found in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It is a fact that these white elephants do exist, wherein some people often consider their color as a sign of purity and cleanliness.
However, white elephants are not entirely white or snow white. Instead, they are more of a grayish-white in color and sometimes pinkish-white. This white elephant is not a distinct species, but rather an effect of albinism.
Regardless of the elephant species, there are chances that they’d become albino. The same thing goes to other animals, as well as humans. Experts find albinism in the ratio of roughly one in every 20,000 camels, snakes, crows, monkeys, lizards, and humans. This effect of albinism is what the people of Burma and Thailand consider as pure and sacred.
Moreover, owning a white elephant is rare and expensive. Because of this, kings are mostly the only ones in possession of these so-called divine creatures. They provide royal treatment to these white elephants and do not put them into work.For every elephant, there are persons assigned to supply their needs, such as food, clothing, hygiene, and others.
However, these sacred elephants are not just a sign of purity but also a sign of justice and power. Having a white elephant in one kingdom means that peace and prosperity reign over the place. That is why white elephants are common gifts in some kingdoms in Asia.
With these said, we can say that elephants are such magnificent creatures. Furthermore, perfectly white elephants do not exist in real life, just in movies and books. Those elephants that are lighter in color is what we consider as white elephants, usually with a grayish or pinkish color. Like any other animal, we can attribute the white color of an elephant to albinism.
Interesting facts about elephants
In our modern world, the International Union for Conservation of Nature considers African elephants as vulnerable and Asian elephants as endangered. One of the leading cause of their population decline is the ivory trade, wherein people poach these animals for their ivory tusks. Another factor for this is the destruction of their habitat. Through the years, the habitat of elephants is gradually getting destroyed by human and natural causes. Until today, the population of elephants keeps on declining due to many other reasons.
Elephants live in different environments, like in the savannahs, forests, deserts, marshes, and sometimes, they live in the city as a luxurious pet. In terms of diet, they do eat a lot to keep their gigantic bodies healthy. They are herbivores that feed on grass, fruits, small plants, bushes, tree barks, and roots. Among these foods, tree bark is their favorite since it gives them calcium and roughage to aid their digestion. This aid is essential to elephants since they spend roughly twelve to eighteen hours a day feeding. Most of the time, an adult can eat 200 – 600 pounds of food and drink up to fifty gallons of water each day.