The lost art of elephant stacking

OK, so here’s a question. And don’t page down until you’ve got an answer, you sneaky reader, you.

If you wanted to stack up a tower of as many of one type of animal as possible, which animal would you choose…

You’ve got 5 seconds… GO!






Giant Manta Ray! That was my answer anyway. They seem to tick all the boxes. Well, at least they tick the one box that came to my mind. The box of flatness. But is that enough? We’ll see.

The Ground Rules

OK, so let’s lay out the ground rules for this one. Animals are average size for their species and you can choose what ratio of males to females you want. Only one animal (the bottom of the stack) can touch the ground, but they can have as much of their body touching the ground as you like. Equipment is available to move the animals in to the positions that you want. Towers must remain upright for one full minute for it to count.

Elephant stacking


You may remember this Pepsi advert which depicted a young boy who discovered that Pepsi gave him the power to command elephants. He goes on to develop his skill in constructing elephant towers involving up to 5 elephants standing on each other’s backs.

Now that’s all very impressive and all, but I think if we’re talking pure numbers, they’ve got it all wrong over at Pepsi. I think I could stack six.

Let’s start by lying the base elephant – the largest – on its side. Now let’s put the second one – the second largest – on top of it, lying the other way round with its legs pointing back over Mr Base’s belly. Then keep stacking them in different directions, until you have six finely balanced (and uncomfortably compacted) beasts. There is a danger that the belly of number 2 might touch the ground so you’d have to be careful with your geometry when putting it down.

So six elephants seems a reasonable baseline. Let’s see how I did with my answer.

Giant Manta Rays

Before we think too much about stacking these beasts, let’s remind ourselves what they actually are…

Giant Manta Ray

Oceanic manta rays are huge water rays that live throughout the world’s oceans. They can have a wing span of up to 7 metres and can weigh up to 2 tonnes. It’s thought that they live between 50 and 100 years and they eat unimaginable volumes of plankton.

It should prove a more simple quandary than the elephants to stack these guys. Essentially, we just pile ’em up. Here is an article from the Manta Trust about threats to their survival, which shows some pictures of them after they’ve been hunted. It makes for sad viewing, but it does help us to visualise how we might do with our stacking mission. We’d have problems eventually due to their middle being bigger than their wings and they’d start sliding off each other if you didn’t keep their middles completely central. Plus, they’d have to wear survival headgear on their gills to pass ethics committee, which would compromise their tesselation and give you some problems. A round ten seems like a realistic aim.

Not bad, eh? I can’t help but feel there are better stackers out there though…

Which animal did you choose? Can you beat my score of ten?


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