How Long Can an Elephant Stand After It Dies?

An anonymous questioner asks, “How long can an elephant stand after it dies?”

I thought they might actually mean, “How long can you stand an elephant after it dies?” But on consulting prominent elephysiologists, I learned that elephant post-mortem standing is a matter of some controversy in that field.

Deceased elephant being held up by a man

A deceased elephant can stand indefinitely with some assistance.

Obviously, the elephant can continue to stand for some time if assisted. However, students of this question are more interested to know how long it might stand without help. Like human knees, an elephant’s legs can lock, and four legs give it stability. So in theory, it should be possible for it to stay upright for at least a minute, before whatever tiny initial imbalance there may be in the weight distribution starts it slowly tipping one way or another. This is of course assuming that the manner of death doesn’t impart significant momentum. Shooting the elephant, for instance, would push it in the direction of the shot, so even if it died instantly you would still be shortening the standing time. You would have to select a cause of death that doesn’t apply force, such as poison.

However, it’s difficult to get an elephant to co-operate in this so that it could actually be tested. We don’t know how to explain the experimental protocol to the elephant, obtain her consent, and ask her please to lock her leg joints and stay carefully balanced while we try killing her. And even assuming we were able to find an elephant willing to give her life for Science, it may be hard for the elephant to maintain focus on her posture while she’s being poisoned or whatever. The process of killing an elephant is distracting to the elephant.

So, this is an open question. If you can figure out an ingenious way to test it, your name will be inscribed in a place of honor in the annals of elephant lore, behind Freida Hull, who designed the elephonium, but before Shofar Ramanujan, the record holder for longest rope made out of elephant tail hairs.



2 pings

Skip to comment form

    • Joachim Masatu on 16 August 2012 at 11:09 am

    I only think its cells die when she is standing,and after a time they undergo self destruction.

    • Dunx on 8 October 2012 at 4:13 pm

    The process of killing an elephant is distracting to the elephant!! haha 😀 hey sara! 🙂

  1. I only think the weight on her four lags can keep alephant standing after it dies.

  2. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments??? If so how do you reduce it; any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated. (spammy business contact information removed)

  3. Al i know is dat elephant die standing 4 sometimes.depending on how its death came about

  4. We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme
    in our community. Your web site offered us with useful info
    to work on. You have done an impressive activity and our whole group might
    be thankful to you.

  5. The Clash of Clans hack could be downloaded from i – Tunes
    and continues to be created to suit both i – Phone
    and i – Pad. Our studios work around the clock thinking of fresh ideas for great content.
    Advancments within clash of clans hack tool no
    survey can be linked to numerous areas.

  6. A grownup small doodle, Daisy, is retiring and for purchase to your.
    Uncover puppies available & Northeast Ohio Pets: terriers, labs,
    violet nose. Discover Cincinnati labradoodle Dogs & pups on the
    market. Labradoodle Males F1b in Kansas, Ready 07. We’ve 3
    miniature labradoodles available. 2 dark. Labradoodle pups forsale in Iowa – F1B Raised with kids in order that they are well
    socialized. Current vaccinations and something year health guarantee.

    • website on 9 December 2014 at 2:44 am

    I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Please permit me realize so that I may subscribe.

  7. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Firefox, it looks fine but
    when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other
    then that, fantastic blog!

    • london anna on 2 March 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I think that the Elephant stays standing just because the impact of the shot has not yet registered to the brain a minute or so pass and out of nowhere the messages go straight to the brain all at once and this is a shock to the elephant which leads to the unbalance and loss of equilibrium which leads to the elephant falling towards the point of the bullet towards the direction of the impact it’s legs not being able to withstand any longer. This is my own opinion as a test you would have to step up the correct amount and planning to get accurate results on this topic.

  1. […] while back I answered someone’s question about whether elephants could stand after death. Well, I didn’t exactly answer it but you […]

    • Dead elephant « Just Outside the Box Cartoon on 28 March 2012 at 2:01 pm

    […] from. Various theories are out there, but I couldn’t find any evidence on Google. Here is Tyler’s theory on the subject. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

Comments have been disabled.