These are my two new mammoths - June (in dark green, gen-u-ine antique mohair!) and Sadie (in a slightly whispy, baldish, kind of mohair). Both have a cashmere undercarriage.
I was working at the Art & Craft Centre the other day, and somebody picked up one of my grey mammoths. She said to me, "Is this an elephant?" Being quite relaxed about this kind of thing, and not one to worry if someone wants to call a mammoth an elephant, I replied "Yes - or a mammoth." She then said something like "Oh, so it could be either" and put it down and walked away.
Maybe, of course, it was just a polite enquiry and the lady never seriously considered taking the mammoth home with her anyway, but it felt at the time as if I'd given the wrong response. Maybe the distinction between elephant and mammoth was of great importance. I suppose if you collect mammoths (and I've met a few people who do), you need to be clear about the distinction.
The only thing is, if I were to insist to a customer that these were mammoths, as opposed to elephants, I can envisage a situation where the next question they ask would be "Oh, what's the difference?" I have no idea - apart from one being bigger (and older) than the other. I wonder if there's a more general word - describing the type/family/genus - which includes both?