If you read much on the blog you probably know my family and me, love animals of all different shapes and sizes. We recently had the opportunity to visit the Ringling Center for Elephants Conservation. It was nice to see things from the elephants side of the fence. I’m sure many of you have heard that Ringling Bros Circus is phasing the elephant act out of their shows, and the Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida is where they will retire.
I was able to bring my two daughters and husband on the trip, so it was certainly nice to have them there to have the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures. I admit, I didn’t know a lot about the Asian elephant before we visited the Center for Elephant Conservation. I did know they were on the endangered species list, but I had no idea how many there were left in the world. It’s certainly disturbing, and I’m all about allowing wild animals to roam free, but I also understand not wanting a wonderous creature lie the Asian elephant to end up extinct.
Do you know how many Asian elephants are there left in the wild?
It’s scary, but there are less than 35,000 Asian elephants roaming free in the wild. I’m all about allowing an animal to be wild if they can do that naturally. With only 35,000 Asian elephants roaming free I can’t help but think they’re not able to live in the wild like they normally would. They have to worry about humans killing them for their ivory, which is completely and totally sickening. I just don’t understand how ivory can be worth the extension of this beautiful animal.
Do you know what the greatest threat is to the Asian elephants?
Sadly it’s humans who are the primary cause of death when it comes to both the African and Asian elephants. Unfortunately, the Asian elephant was placed on the exclusive endangered list way back in 1976 by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since 1976 and the number of elephants is continuing to decline. With the wild Asian elephants increasingly threatened program such as Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation are important to the future of the Asian elephant.
I enjoyed everything about this trip, even the plane ride to Orlando (everything but not making it home with my painting) because my family was albe to go with me. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it was to see my girls enjoy themselves so much while visiting the center.
If you were to ask either one of them a question about their trip they can almost tell you word for word what they learned from listening to Janice speak. Janice, the Director of Animal Stewardship. Janice has been with Ringling Bros for over 40 years and graduated from Ringling Bros. Clown College. She now works with trainers and animals to maintain high standards of animal care and compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
Janice talked with us for a bit before we headed out to meet the elephants. Listening to her speak, I felt that she was passionate about her role int he elephants life. She was very knowledgeable and seemed to care truly about the well-being of the elephants.
We learned a lot listening to Janice speak, and my husband has been using his learnings to playing trivia with his friends because he knows he can stump them lol.
- The Asian elephant weighs 3 to 7 tons, which is 6,000 to 14,000 pounds! I know, it’s HUGE!
- The Asian elephants get between 7 and 12 feet tall.
- They have two domes on the top of their head.
- Asian elephants have the smaller ears, and African elephants ears are shaped like the continent of Africa.
- We also learned in Asian elephant’s only males have the ivory tusks, while African elephants both male and female have tusks.
We also had the chance to hold a piece of an elephant tusk. The tusk was about a foot or so long and maybe four inches in diameter, and it was SUPER heavy. I can’t even imagine how much an elephant’s tusk weights and to think they carry it around with them 24 hours a day without any problems. It’s an eye-opener regarding how powerful this animal is. Oh, and they showed us elephant teeth, and you would have to see it for yourself to believe how big they are they only have four teeth in their mouth and can grow up to six new sets of teeth over their lifespan. That’s all cool trivia, and I’m stumping my friends with it, but it’s nowhere near as cool as the cancer research the center is helping Dr. Joshua Schiffman with.
We jumped on three golf carts, and they gave us a tour of the center.
Have you ever wondered what and how much an Asian elephant eats?
Like all of us, Asian elephants love to eat. The elephants at the Center for Elephant Conservation consume about 2.5 tons of hay daily, 700 to 800 pounds of grain, fruit, veggies, special grasses, and will branches grown at the center are also given to the elephants. Oh, and we can’t forget about the 80 gallons of water that each elephant needs daily for drinking and, of course, their daily bath. The food that the elephants receive is the same quality that you or I can expect to get from a restaurant.
Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is a state of the art faculty that has been dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of the Asian elephant, It was established in 1995 and is a 200-acre plot of land specifically for the Asian elephants located in central Florida. They have everything they need and a lot of people who love and care for them.
I would never have thought it would be so cool to be that close to an elephant especially as a grown up, but I was wrong. I was sucked in and didn’t want to leave. I fell in love with a 70-year-old elephant named Mysore. I got to help the kid give her a bath and watch her fall asleep. She’s such a big girl and eating up the bath; I guess it has to be pretty awesome to have a team of people scrubbing you lol.
After her bath, we took some pictures, and she smelled me with her trunk and was very friendly.
That was cooler than the cutest baby elephant in the world smashing a watermelon so he could eat it and trying to break his popsicle, which has all sorts of yummy fruit inside. I had no idea they could use their trunks like that. I mean I knew they used it to pick things up and knock stuff down, but I was blown away to learn that they can manipulate things as small as a dime with the little finger like things on their trunks.
We watched this lovely lady paint a picture. We had one we were bringing home, but something happened to it at the airport. This is one reason I don’t enjoy flying where I am going. Something always happens, and there isn’t anything you can do or you won’t get home. BLAH, stinking airports at least I have these pictures and the memory! BOOM, airport you can’t take that from me!
I learned a lot more than I expected to on this little excursion. The people at Ringling Bros Center for Elephant Conservation were very informative, very hospitable and seemed to be very passionate about their work at the center and the beautiful Asian elephant.
What’s The Deal With Elephants & Cancer?
You may already know, but more than 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. That’s a number I’m sure we all agree needs to decrease significantly.
Cancer has touched a lot of people, in one way or the other, and the outcome is usually a sad one whether it’s an adult or a child. They have done tons of research, they have tried new drugs, new dosages, and all kinds of stuff, but nothing seemed to make a difference. Doctors discovered a gene that protects people from disease; it’s called P53 often referred to as the “Knight” gene. According to research, children are born with two of these “Knight genes” which is the gene responsible for protecting us from things like cancer. After looking into things more, they have learned that many children who get cancer either have a broken Knight gene or are missing them altogether. While elephants, which rarely get cancer have 40 copies of the “Knight” gene.
Dr. Schiffman, Pediatric oncologist, and a team are studying elephants DNA to determine why they rarely get cancer and how this can lead to new treatments for childhood cancer. To learn more about elephants and cancer watch the below video and visit RinglingElephantCenter.com.
Right now Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Joshua Schiffman and a team from Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Department of Pediatrics are studying why elephants rarely get cancer and how they can use the findings from the research to help childhood cancer. You can learn more by visiting RinglingElephantCenter.com.
Everyone we talked with at the Center for Elephant Conservation was passionate about their role in elephant conservation. My husband and I both agreed that watching the staff with the elephants and listening to them speak they seemed to be passionate abut the elephants and what they ‘re doing at the center. All the elephants at the center seemed to be happy, healthy, well cared for and loved.
We didn’t receive any money for this post, but Ringling Bros Center for Elephant Conservation to pay for my travel expenses. All opinions are 100% my own based on the experiences while visiting the center.