Under natural conditions, elephants eat mostly grass, tree leaves, flowers, wild fruits, twigs, shrubs, bamboo, and bananas.
Their main food is grass when it’s available, along with some leaves. But if the weather turns dry and grass dies back, they will eat almost any kind of vegetation they can find.
They will knock down trees to eat their foliage. They will even turn to bark and the woody parts of plants. Also elephants use their tusks to dig for roots.
Much of this coarse food passes through their system without being thoroughly digested. They also use their tusks to dig for water, making it available not only to themselves, but also to other types of animals.
To demonstrate this phenomena, we fed our very own elephants! Using tweezers, students placed leaves into the mouths of their elephants. This accessed both fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination!