Are elephants capable of jumping?

The Internet has no clear answer: Some say yes, some say no.


Dot Physics: No

Elephants are one of the few animals that can't jump. Not even a little bit. They don't like to have more than 1 foot off the ground.

Yahoo.Answers: Only baby elephants

baby elephants have been known to do so, if provoked [...]

an elephant cannot jump or even run in the accepted sense since it must keep one foot on the ground at all times.

Straight Dope: No, err.. Yes?

I say this because it is generally well known that African elephants can jump.

In fact the "Elephant Jumping Festival" will be held next month in Nairobi.

I need someone who can get to the bottom of this.

  • 2
    My reading of the "Elephant Jumping Festival" is that it is tongue-in-cheek, but I see many people referring to it as though it is true (sometimes, it has migrated to Kenya).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 2:57
  • that's my issue too Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 3:10
  • 3
    first statement says nothing. First it claims Elephants can't jump, next it says elephants don't LIKE to have more than one foot off the ground (not that they are incapable...). It's a false claim anyway, as elephants are quite capable and willing to stand on their hind legs to reach things otherwise out of reach, like high branches in trees.
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 5:59
  • 7
    A European elephant or an African elephant ?
    – glmxndr
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:17
  • 2
    what direction, up or down? :)
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


No, and I consider this 11 page publication to be the most authoritative assessment of the matter.

It covers all the topics you've raised, as well as assessing whether it was possible that elephants were once capable of jumping (they weren't).

With respect to your mention of the "Elephant Jumping Festival" - that is false, and discussed at the end of page 6. Page 7 covers the origin of the mythical anecdotes that baby elephants have been observed jumping. Furthermore experiments conducted to test this explicitly (by dangling food out of reach) have never produced this behaviour.

[1] Natan Slifkin. The case of the jumping elephant. 2008. www.zootorah.com


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