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Museum Hours
Thurs: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
Cafe Hours
Fri-Mon: 10 AM—4:30 PM
Thurs: 1—7:30 PM
Location
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.581.3500
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Activity

Elephant Explorers

In the spring of 2020, a herd of wild Asian elephants started migrating north from Southwest China. As of June 2021, the elephants have traveled 500 kilometers, navigating through rural areas and cityscapes toward an unknown destination. Scientists believe this unusual migration was spurred by deforestation, urbanization, and habitat loss.

Learn more about the migrating elephants

For all grade levels

For grades 6 and up

Questions to Think About

  1. What are some funny and serious consequences of the elephants entering human communities?
  2. Where should the elephants end up? What will finally make a place “home” for them? How should they get there?
  3. What can humans learn from this herd of elephants?

Create Your Own Auspicious Elephant Caravan Hanging (Art Activity)

Elephants are seen as auspicious (bringing good luck) in Chinese culture. Indeed, the Asian Art Museum collection includes an auspicious elephant hanging that contains the hidden meaning, “May there be peace, and may your noble house be blessed with wealth and honor!” The elephant is a symbol of peace, and carrying a vase is a pun for peace and safety (ping an) in Chinese visual culture. The flowers in the vase are also significant: the Chinese word for “magnolia” is a pun for “noble house,” while the peony is a sign of wealth and honor. 

Click through the gallery to view examples of an auspicious elephant hanging.

Materials

Paper

Black pen

Color pens

Pencils

Download the teacher packet from sidebar above for complete instructions.

Procedure

  1. Use a pencil to trace the outline of one of your hands. Ask a friend or family member if you can trace around their hand, too, so you have hands of different sizes and shapes.
  2. Turn your hand drawings upside down and outline them with the black pen. Then color in each elephant, adding details such as eyes, ears, tails, wrinkles, and toes.
  3. Try to make each elephant distinct—how might you convey an elephant’s age or personality? In our example, how are the two elephants different from each other?
  4. Think: What habitat would be nice for these elephants to live in? Draw and color in that habitat for your elephants. In our example, the elephants will get to enjoy delicious bamboo.
  5. Ask your friends and family to create their own hand-elephants and habitats. Then “join hands” and hang all the elephants up together to create a fun caravan on your wall. Where will your elephants go next?