Photos: Asian Elephants! Awe-Inspiring, Adorable, and Endangered

The Asian elephant, one of Earth's largest land mammals, has long been viewed as a symbol of status and power and revered as a representation of the divine. Wars were fought over them in southeast Asia when the ownership of treasured white elephants came into dispute, and in the 18th and 19th centuries they themselves were used as massive war machines during times of conflict.

The storied and historic relationship between human beings and elephants is the subject of The Story of Asia's Elephants, the fourth book by premier Asian elephant expert Dr. Raman Sukumar, who will be speaking at Asia Society Texas Center on Thursday, July 18. These days, however, the existence of Asian elephants especially is being threatened because of human activity.

To remind everyone just how awesome elephants are, we put together some photos of Asian elephants engaging in unexpected activities, looking cute, and generally just being their amazing selves. Tickets to attend Dr. Sukumar's talk are still available.

Meanwhile, take a look at a 2010 video update on the Melbourne Zoo's baby Mali, who is shown doing her favorite things.

About the Author

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Jennifer Shyue is a contributor to Asia Blog. Originally a Brooklynite, she is currently a student at Princeton University.