Elephant Disease Fact sheets       

Signs of Health and Disease
Elephant Care International Fact Sheet

Susan K. Mikota DVM

Signs of a healthy elephant

  • Constant motion—ears flapping, tail or trunk swinging

  • Eyes clear and bright; a small amount of clear discharge from the conjunctival sac is normal

  • Mouth, tongue, and inside of the trunk a rosy pink

  • Tip of the trunk moist

  • Skin soft and resilient

  • Moisture present at the base of the nailNeither too fat nor too lean

  • Appetite good, appears content

  • Well-formed dung, brown in color (color may vary with diet); a normal amount is passed with no evidence of strainin

  • Urine copious in amount, faintly yellow, with a pleasant odor; no straining during urination

Signs of illness in elephants

  • Listless, decreased movement, unusual behavior, exercise intolerance
  • Dull or sunken eyes, increased tear flow, thick discharge
  • Mucous membranes pale, muddy, bright red, or dry
  • Discharge from the trunk, coughing, abnormal respiratory sounds
  • Dry skin, loss of elasticity, wounds
  • Weight loss, sunken abdomen, prominent ribs (see body condition index)
  • Deceased appetite, anorexia
  • Change in urine or feces (amount, color); straining
  • Lameness
  • Obvious pain
  • Any unusual swelling or protrusion

Elephant Care International


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