About one month ago I called my mother and told her about this place in Indiana where we could get up close and interact with elephants. I have not been on a road trip with my mother in years, actually more like over a decade. It took about an hour but I finally got the lady to agree and go on a 6 hour road trip to Indiana! I also asked my mother-in-law and cousin to come along for the adventure. It only took them 5 Minutes to say YES! To kick off my 2018 bucket list I brought my family to Paoli, Indiana for a day trip to Wilstem Ranch.
After driving 6 hours through rain, sleet, and a blizzard, we finally made it to Wilstem Ranch! The ranch is a nicely secluded area surrounded by lots of trees and large areas of grass. Fun fact about Wilstem Ranch, Franklin Delano Roosevelt would go there to hunt pheasants and quail. He even announced his candidacy for president at Wilstem as well.
Anyhoo back to the elephants! the elephant encounter is an hour long. For the first portion of the hour the elephant caregivers introduce us to the elephants and give us their back stories. Wilstem Ranch houses three female African elephants; Makia, Lovie, and Lou. Makia (pictured left) is the matriarch out of the three and she is 44 years old. Lou is 34 years old and a fun fact about Lou is that she only has one tusk because one never grew. I do not have any pictures of Lou because there were not enough caregivers there to supervise three elephants. Lovie (pictured at the very top) is the youngest of the elephants, he is 33 years old.
Now I know that animals in captivity is a sensitive subject, but these animals are well taken care of. They have ten acres to roam on the ranch, they are bathed everyday, and they were not forced to perform tricks. On the Wilstem Ranch website there is a tab for The Elephant Enrichment Fund Inc where anyone can donate money to help give the elephants more activities, enhancements to their habitat, and for the overall wellbeing of the elephants. I will link the website below! As an observer, I could see the compassion and love that the caretakers have for these animals. One of the caretakers has been around exotic animals all his life and it is his passion to care for them. These gentle giants are so peaceful and such amazing creatures. Meeting these elephants is an experience that I will never forget. I am extremely grateful that I was able to experience this with my family, especially with my mother. After our interaction with the elephants we were off to see giraffes and kangaroos.
Let me tell you about these two cuties, Jabari (left photo) and Bert (right two photos)! Jabari is the youngest giraffe, unfortunately I forgot how old he is, and Bert is 6 years old. When we got to the giraffes we had to walk in very quietly because giraffes spook easily and to my amazement they were standing in front right when we walked in. So in order to get the giraffes to come close to us they had to be bribed with carrots and let me tell you they love their carrots. Feeding a giraffe is like nothing I have ever felt before. Their tongues are super long and so slimy! My hand was covered in saliva from their tongues. Gross but totally awesome at the same time. Now we were not able to pet Jabari because well he just doesn’t want people to touch him, but we were able to pet Bert! Bert is so soft and very gentle. He was definitely cool beans and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to interact with him! There were two times that we got to feed the giraffes, one was when we were eye level with them the other is down by their feet and letting them come down to us!
The only thing that the caretakers did not mention is that the giraffes will drool like crazy on you if you are not paying attention! I was luckily able to dodge the saliva as I was trying to feed them. These guys are amazing!
After we said goodbye to Jabari and Bert, we went to hang with some Kangaroos! I have been around Kangaroos before when I was in Japan, so I was very excited to get the chance to interact with them again. As you can probably tell that my mother loved her experience. She got to pet, get licked, and smelled by the kangaroos. Seeing the joy on my mothers face while she was interacting with the animals brought me so much joy and I’m glad that I got to do this experience with her. Oh and as a side note to all my pregnant or nursing mothers out there, for warning animals can tell when you are nursing or pregnant so be prepared for an interaction like no other. A kangaroo started licking and even nibbled a little bit at my boob because it could tell that there is milk in there. You cannot see my face in the picture but this totally took me by surprise. I jumped up real fast once I realized what it was doing. This definitely had my family laughing at me and my mother-in-law got evidence for future laughs. Good times!
Our time with the kangaroos was not very long but luckily there were other animals for us to see.
Like mother like daughter! We love snakes! This is Katie and she is a python! She was adopted from a circus and she now resides on the ranch. We were allowed to hold her because she is use to being handled by humans. Let me tell you she is soft and she is actually really sweet. I kissed a python and I liked it! So if you guys are looking for a fun adventure to interact with the amazing exotic animals I highly recommend Wilstem Ranch! Linked bellow is their website with all the information. Check them out!