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McNair Asian Elephant Habitat

Meet the Elephants – These Seven Plus Our New Calf Duncan!

About the Exhibit

Covering an enormous three acres, the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat is a fun, naturalistic place to live and enjoy for the Zoo’s eight elephants. Watch young elephants Duncan and Tupelo splash around in their 80,000 gallon pool, while a shaded, 200-seat demonstration area is a great place to see keeper talks from our elephant care team. You can even see inside the 7,000 square foot elephant barn, where elephants are given daily baths (be sure to check the keeper chat schedule for times!). Since adult males and females live apart in the wild, you’ll see the same living arrangement here at the Zoo: our females are in one yard with their calves, while our older male, Thai, and younger Tucker enjoy space to themselves.

Behind the Scenes

Meet Jack
Jack has been an animal keeper at the Houston Zoo since 2008, working first with birds, then making the very big (literally) move to the elephant department.


Meet Mandy
Mandy feels very fortunate for the time that she gets to spend with the elephants. You can find Mandy working hard at bath time or engaged with guests during a meet the keeper talk.


Meet Max the Dog
Maximus (a.k.a. Max) is a mixed breed terrier that has been at the Houston Zoo since 2008. Max acts as an important training tool for the elephant department.


Baby Elephant Duncan’s First Time Outside


Elephant FAQ’s

• An elephant’s skin is so sensitive that it can feel a fly landing on it.

• Elephants use their trunks to drink but the water doesn’t go all the way up the trunk like a straw. Instead, the elephant sucks water part way up the trunk, curls it toward its mouth, tilts its head up, and lets the water pour in.

• The low, resounding calls elephants make can be heard by another elephant up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) away!

• Elephants have been relentlessly hunted for their tusks, even though the tusks are made of dentine–the same as our teeth!

• Mild-tempered male elephants usually have the largest tusks because they tend to avoid behaviors such as combat and tree ramming which break tusks!

• A trunk weighs about 400 pounds (182 kg), can hold up to 2.5 gallons (9.5 l) of water, contains at least 40,000 muscles (possibly up to 100,000) and is so dexterous that it can pick up a grain of rice.


Did You Know?

An elephant pregnancy lasts longer than any other mammal at nearly 22 months!