Can an elephant survive without its trunk?
Unfortunately for one calf in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, this is not a hypothetical question. It’s an experiment that’s unfolding in real-time.
Images and video this week show an elephant calf with a short stump where its versatile appendage used to be. No one knows for sure what lopped the trunk off—be it a predator or a snare—but the loss is not one to take lightly.
An elephant’s trunk, also known as a proboscis, can be used to breathe, bathe, transport water to its mouth, and grasp objects for eating. As an adult, an elephant’s trunk is capable of lifting more than 700 pounds, thanks to an array of some 40,000 muscles. (For reference, humans