Elephant Encounters in Florida

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Looking to take part in an elephant encounter in Florida? Whether you want to just see an elephant, pet one, bathe one or even ride an elephant, there are a few places in Florida that provide elephant encounters.

The following is list of elephant encounters in Florida:

ZooTampa at Lowry Park:

Address: 1101 W. Sligh Avenue Tampa, FL 

Website: zootampa.org

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a 63-acre zoo in Tampa that is home to more than 1000 animals including African painted dogs, Florida panthers, rhinos, orangutans, tortoises, Komodo dragons, hippos as well as a herd of six African elephants.

The zoo offers two elephant encounters: a breakfast with elephants experience and an African elephant backstage experience.

During the breakfast with elephants experience, guests enjoy a light breakfast and a special training session and painting session with an African elephant. In addition, they also get their photo taken with the elephant.

During the African elephant backstage experience, guests enjoy a behind the scenes tour of an elephant training session.

In addition to the elephant encounters, the zoo also offers other type of animal encounters such as a giraffe encounter, an African penguin backstage encounter, an Indian rhino feeding, a Southern white rhino backstage experience, a giant tortoise experience and a manatee critical care backstage experience.

In 2021, ZooTampa at Lowry Park was voted the Best Kid’s Attraction in Tampa Magazine’s Best of South Tampa awards.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Joseph A. Couceiro is the CEO of ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Two Tails Ranch:

Address: 18655 NE 81st St, Williston, FL

Website: allaboutelephants.com

Established in 1984, Two Tails Ranch is an elephant ranch in Willistin that also features other exotic animals such as Grant Zebras, ostriches, tortoises, emus and camels.

The ranch offers three types of elephant encounters: an elephant feeding experience, a photo opportunity with an elephant, and elephant rides.

The ranch is one of the only places in Florida that even offers elephant rides, which has a long history in Florida but is being phased out in many places in the state due to safety concerns.

The ranch also offers something called an extreme encounter but it requires guests to call or email for details.

A word of warning about the ranch, there have been six confirmed elephant attacks against people at the park, prompting investigations by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on each occasion.

Patricia Zerbini is the CEO of Two Tails Ranch Inc.

Myakka Elephant Ranch:

Address: 4450 Verna Bethany Rd, Myakka City, FL

Website: www.myakkaelephantranch.org

Established in 2019, Myakka Elephant Ranch is a 10-acre elephant ranch in Myakka City that features two Asian elephants and one African elephant.

The three elephants, named Patty, Carol and Lou, are circus-performer retirees and Patty and Carol also made cameos in the 1980 movie Smokey and the Bandit II.

The ranch offers three types of elephant encounters: the VIP Rise and Shine Encounter, the Elephant Spa Encounter, and the Elephant Educational Encounter.

The VIP Rise and Shine encounter is a one hour experience during which 8-10 guests help feed an elephant its breakfast. They also get to touch an elephant and have their photo taken with it. In addition, guests help bathe one of the elephants.

The Elephant Spa encounter is a one hour and 45 minute experience during which up to 25 guests help bathe and care for two elephants and also enjoy an educational session where they learn all about elephants. The Elephant Spa Encounter consists of one hour of spa time and 45 minutes of educational time.

The Elephant Educational Encounter is a 45 minute experience during which guest will learn everything about elephants and also have the opportunity to take a photo with an elephant.

Lou Jacob is the CEO of the Myakka Elephant Ranch.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay:

Address: 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL

Website: buschgardens.com/tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335-acre animal theme park that features an amusement park, a safari park and various animal exhibits.

The various animals that can be seen at the park include elephants, sloths, rhinos, tigers, cheetahs, gorillas, lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, kangaroos, alligators and flamingos.

The park offers an Elephant Insider Tour which is a 30 minute behind-the-scenes tour during which guests meet the zoo keepers and observe them while they train an elephant.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Neil Thurman is the president of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Elephant Encounters in Florida

Sources:
Villegas, Brianda. “ZooTampa celebrates World Elephant Day.” WFLA, 12 Aug. 2021, wfla.com/news/zootampa-celebrates-world-elephant-day/
Elephant Insider Tour.” Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, buschgardens.com/tampa/tours/elephant-insider/
Cox, Bill. “Manatee County Elephant Encounter Hopes to Turn Visitors Into Conservationists.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021, heraldtribune.com/story/news/local/manatee/2021/01/22/manatee-county-elephant-encounter-hopes-turn-visitors-into-conservationists/4160961001/
Elephant Encounter.” Myakka Elephant Ranch, myakkaelephantranch.org/elephant-encounter
Take a Tour at Two Tails Ranch” All About Elephants, allaboutelephants.com/visitor-info/schedule-a-tour
Breakfast with the Animals.” Zoo Tampa, zootampa.org/breakfast-with-animals/