Sharon Mlynek, age 10, of Fullerton, Pa., for her question:
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE AN ELEPHANT TO HAVE A BABY?
The elephant is a mammal and most mammal babies develop very gradually inside the mother's body. This period of motherly protection is called gestation. As a general rule, smaller animals have shorter gestation periods. For example, the gestation period for most little mice is about three weeks. A large mother lion carries her babies at least 100 days.
The female Indian elephant stands more than 6 feet tall and may weigh almost 4 tons She is ready to bear her first baby at the age of 12. The gestation period is about 22 months, sometimes a little less or a little more. The newborn baby elephant stands 3 feet high and weighs about 200 pounds. The mother usually bears a single baby elephant every two years and once in a while she may give birth to twins.