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Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae. There are three distinct species:
The most noticeable features of the elephant is a long trunk which is called proboscis and large floppy ears. The elephant uses its trunk for many purposes; breathing, drinking and spraying water, and grasping objects. An elephant's trunk can make powerful twisting and coiling movements as well as delicate tasks such as cracking a peanut shell. The trunk of an adult elephant can lift up to 770 lbs (350 kg). When the elephant swims underwater, the trunk is used as a snorkel to breath air.
Throughout history elephants have been objects of worship and subjects of stories and song. In China, the elephant (chia yen) is considered to be one of the Seven Treasures of Buddhism. The white elephant,considered a sacred animal, is believed to have announced the birth of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautam in May 563 BC.
Hindu mythology includes Ganesha, the Elephant-God. Ganesha has many names, faces and purposes. The most prominent elephant gods are:
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