Considering the low rate of reproduction in Asian elephants Elephas maximus and African elephants Loxodonta africana in captivity, and the critical status of the size of the captive population, nutrition plays an important role in the captive management of elephants. This paper highlights two major reviews of the subject but emphasizes those aspects of the feeding regime that seem of particular importance and practical relevance. Obesity and colic are of major concern and offering good-quality hay as a staple diet item over an extended period of the day is the most important recognized prophylactic measure against these conditions. Fruits, cereals, bread or pelleted feeds are not recommended owing to their high financial cost and contribution to obesity, respectively. The use of pelleted compound feeds may only be warranted to address mineral or vitamin deficiencies in the hay supplied to elephants.