The African bush elephant has the longest gestation period of any mammal: a whopping 22 months, almost two years, which does not help the problem of the declining elephant populations.
In 2016, experts estimated that Africa’s elephant population had dropped by 111,000 elephants in the span of a decade. Today, there are just 415,000 elephants across Africa, according to World wildlife fund (WWF).
Calves (baby elephant) are born between 90 and 135 kg and about one meter tall. Female elephants have a long gap between calves (4-5 years) and usually birth one baby at a time, it just takes a while to grow a baby that size!
Other mammals with longest gestation period
Orcas, whales and dolphins
While most often associated with the Pacific Northwest, these black and white whales live in every ocean on Earth. They hunt and communicate by echolocation, and technically belong to the dolphin family.
Orca pods (family group) are matrilineal, after17 month’s pregnancy, mothers are helped by other females in the pod because males will not leave their mothers. Whales in general have a long gestation period between 10 to 17 months and so do dolphins: the spinner dolphins and the bottlenose dolphins have pregnancies lasting between 11 and 12 months respectively.
These one-horned rhinoceros, native to the Indian subcontinent, spend 480 days (about 16 months) gestating their young. Females reach four to six years old before mating. They may be slow to give birth, but they are fast runners. Rhinoceros can reach up to 56 km per hour! Other species of rhinoceros also have long gestation periods. Females black rhinoceros spend aon average 450 days pregnant, and captive white rhinoceros have a record of 548 days before giving birth!
Giraffe herds of families and offspring roam the lower African continent, noshing on twigs, grass, fruit, and shrubs. Males fight for dominance by necking or battles with their long necks, the winner gaining mating rights. However, after spending 453 to 464 days pregnant (approximately 15 months), females still do not get a break. They are solely responsible for raising the young.
Do zebras worry about stretch marks? After all, their black and white stripes run down their back to join up under their belly. A female zebra will spend 360 to 390 days (12 to 13 months) pregnant, and they’ve never been known to birth twins. Both their stripes and their babies are unique.
If you are going to spend between 11 and 14.5 months pregnant, you hope at least the childbirth will be quick! Donkeys deliver their babies, on average, in just 40 minutes. After birth, the mother cleans and dries her foal. Within a few hours, it will try to stand and nurse. Donkeys move fast when they are ready!
After an average gestation of 330 to 345 days (around 11 months), mares are in for a long night. The majority deliver their foals between 8pm and 1am. They start getting ready for birth anywhere from two to six weeks before the actual event, so when it finally happens, they are probably ready to be done!