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There are only a few published examinations of elephant visual acuity. All involved Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and found visual acuity to be between 8′ and 11′ of arc for a stimulus near the tip of the trunk, equivalent to a 0.50 cm gap, at a distance of about 2 m from the eyes. We predicted that African elephants (Loxodonta africana) would have similarly high visual acuity, necessary to facilitate eye-trunk coordination for feeding, drinking and social interactions. When tested on a discrimination task using Landolt-C stimuli, one African elephant cow demonstrated a visual acuity of 48′ of arc. This represents the ability to discriminate a gap as small as 2.75 cm in a stimulus 196 cm from the eye. This single-subject study provides a preliminary estimate of the visual acuity of African elephants.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Shyan-Norwalt, M. R., Peterson, J., Milankow King, B., Staggs, T. E., & Dale, R. H. I. (2010). Initial findings on visual acuity thresholds in an African elephant (Loxodonta africana).Zoo Biology. 29(1), 30-35. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20259

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving'.