I’ve always loved elephants.
They were featured in a few Disney animated classics, and are part of my childhood. As a kid, I got to ride an elephant at Busch Gardens, in Florida. It was the 70’s and we weren’t as well informed as we are now.
Elephants also happen to be LP’s favorite animal.
Part of a zoos and exhibitions goal is to inform and educate. Hands on is an even better way to learn and appreciate. And yes, there are those that will be triggered to see any animal “captivity” and not in their natural habitat… but to be fair, as globalization increases and man continues to build a place for himself to lay his head, raise a family, and create a life… natural habitats for indigenous wildlife are then, well… sacrificed.
Where are they to go? REALLY? Here, yes even in the good old USofA, we continually build on wide open land, thus creating an issue for our local animals, and environment.
OK, enough on the soap box… I want to share a really cool experience with you.
For LaPetite’s birthday surprise, we visited the Preserve Elephant Sanctuary, located in the Hill Country right here in Texas.
Now I’m not trying to start a controversy, or talk about animals in captivity. I’m wanting to give an honest review of my family’s experience with their elephants.
The Preserve is home to and tends to five lovely Asian elephants. These larger than life beauties range from 22-50+ years of age.
During our 1.5 hour immersion, we got to learn about elephants and their species. The physical differences between the Asian and African elephants, and their origins. It was generally informational and educational. So the info was good, and basic, for the general public. I would have liked more in-depth info, and to be able to ask more in-depth questions., but the experience is only about 2 hours long and there’s about 50+ people. Not everyone is a homeschool mom, wanting to make everything a lesson plan.
I’m not gonna front though, as our host was giving info and the introduction to the experience, I could see out of the corner of my eye, 5 elephants making their way over the hill towards us, and I was a kid all over again.
From what I saw, the elephants reminded me of my pack of pugs. They each had their own personalities. Some did tricks, some were quite chatty, and others needed reminders… just like my dogs.
Sure elephants in the wild aren’t getting cues like “trunk trunk” to raise their trunk for us to see and be educated about it… but it’s not much different from saying “paw paw” to a dog, in an effort for a shake or high-5.
Elephants need to get exercise, and stimulation. This is part of their routine at the Preserve. They appear to have a working relationship and bond with their trainers.
At least there are 5 elephants that I’ve seen, laid eyes upon and even got to touch… and all seemed content. Away from harm, and poachers. They’re fed and seem to get a lot of positive reenforcement… i.e. treats, snacks and verbal praise.
Also I was in awe, noting their size, and knowing that these are in fact wild animals at the end of the day. I didn’t have any fear, but was aware that they are bigger then I am. LOL This was a safe environment for not just me, but for the elephants too.
Most fascinating things about these beautiful gals were their freckles, wrinkles and hair and lashes. Each elephant looked very different from each other. By the end of our tour, we could tell each one apart from each other.