A flaccid elephant penis is normally sheathed between the hind legs. As the penis starts to engorge it may partially extrude, still flaccid. A semi-erect penis is almost fully engorged and extrudes forward from the sheath and downward toward the ground. During a full-erection the tip of the penis twitches for several seconds, curving upward toward the belly, forming an S-shape. The term Penis-Erection refers to both semi- and full-erections.

When a non-musth male elephant urinates he fully extends his penis and usually, thereafter, obtains a semi-erection, which may lead to a full-erection. Males in musth typically Urinate with the penis still sheathed. Male infants and calves usually obtain erections when they Suckle, and both young and adult males sometimes obtain semi- and full-erections when they are engaged in Sparring activities, especially when these include Mounting.

References: Poole 1982: 49, 57, 108, 109, 133, 142; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Courtship, Maintenance, Social Play


Context: Maintenance (1)

A young male walks along with a semi-erection. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Maintenance (2)

Little E is 9 days old and is sleeping under the shade of mother and allomothers. They nudge him with a trunk and then a foot to wake him up and Lift him to a standing position. As they touch him under mouth and up in a standing position he opens his mouth wide and vocalizes.

There is no audio for this clip but based on what we see we think it is a High-Intensity-Husky-Cry. He stands for a bit waking up and attains a full Penis-Erection. They lead him away after the family. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Maintenance (3)

Little E is 4 days old. He is in the company of allomother Lorato who has just been fondling his penis. Her attentions seem to have caused him to have a Penis-Erection. She walks over and adopts her idiosyncratic behaviour Stand-Over-Bush again.

Little E stands behind her and then his back legs buckle as if he is going to achieve a full S-Shaped erection, but he just yawns. Mama Little E comes from behind as Little E buckles under a full Penis-Erection (and yawns again) and gives this female a Push. Mama Little E touches Little E's mouth and genitals. As they begin to move we can just see Little E get a full Penis-Erection. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Advertisement & Attraction (1)

Young male with a full erection showing the S-shaped movement required to enter the downward facing female elephant’s vaginal opening. This male was acting aggressive and musth-like when this took place. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Advertisement & Attraction (2)

Conor in full musth follows Jolie in estrus at a fast Purposeful-Walk. His penis is erect. The circle shows a full erection. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Advertisement & Attraction (3)

After a Mating Natsya is surrounded by five males. The youngest male cautiously approaches to test her with Penis-Erection, but when the Guarding male takes a step toward him he Retreats-From with a full erection. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

This is a short section from a longer sequence of very interesting behavior. In this clip Provocadora's 8 year old daughter is Allo-Trunk-Sucking the trunk of her younger brother. Although it may be a coincidence, he appears to become aroused by this experience, much the way he might when nursing from his mother. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Social Play (1)

Three calves all under 2 years old are at play. A male (back left) reaches his trunk over [Reach-Over] the calf closest to the camera, but this male moves away and the male, with a full Penis-Erection Mounts the other calf instead.

As the calf in the foreground contemplates the situation he Head-Waggles. The Mounted female walks away and the Mounting male walks with her until he fall off. Meanwhile the male in the foreground Orients-Toward the first male and Mounts him. Notice the fresh Temporin on two of the calves. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Courtship (1)

Pascal in musth with a Penis-Erection during a prelude to Mating with Amparo. He follows Amparo closely and she abruptly stops and Rump-Presents, standing with her body close to him. There is the slow moving calm that is typical of behavior immediately prior to a Mating between a high ranking, experienced musth male and an experienced adult female. Amparo stands for him Waiting and Pascal, too, Waits. Often this is when Driving occurs. Pascal has an erection which twitches to a full erection. Then Amparo initiates a Chase and Pascal tries a Reach-Over. The Chase ends in a successful Mating. (Amboseli, Kenya)