*DIS Contributors review meals and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, for a low, low cost of thirty dollars, you are allowed to glimpse inside the secret lives of elephants. Caring for Giants is a short behind the scenes tour at only one hour in length! But, WOW, the plethora of knowledge I received from this experience is amazing. Ever had a question about elephants? Ask away, I may still not know, but I’m sure one of the guides does. We spoke to three brilliant minds, one was all the way from Africa, a man named Frank from Tanzania. Did you know that an elephant drinks about a bathtub full of water a day, that elephant poop makes great recycled paper since 40-50% is digested 50-60% of their food is not digested, or that elephants sometimes eat tree branches? Well, that’s why I’m writing this review for you. Nothing can ever come close to seeing this tour for yourself and having your own name written on recycled elephant poop paper. Also, elephants eat 300-400lbs of food per day consisting of hay and tree branches.
Calfs (baby elephants) typically tend to nurse for four to five years, though Ma’ma Donna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom prefers to wean her babies as soon as possible at approximately 2-3yrs. Baby Stella is on that high end, at just over two years old (her birthday being January 4th 2017).
I was surprised that I was able to watch her nurse. The daughters of Donna; Nadirah and Luna, have bonded more with Stella and actively protect and care for her in the wild.
The bulls (or male elephants) are kept separate from the cows (or female elephants) since they are all old enough to mate. Disney only allows controlled mating here.
Before they allow the baby elephants into the outdoor enclosure, they do a swim test thus assuring the calf won’t drown. Although they don’t believe the water sources in their enclosures are deep enough for them to drown in, they still take no chances. I was told that the maximum depth of any water source here is not even three feet. I still believe being cautious is the right choice; chances cannot be taken in the enclosures.
For their birthdays they get ‘ice-cakes’ which is fruit that is frozen in ice. I’m told they love these treats and Stella just had one a few months ago for her second birthday. Apparently she went crazy for it!!!
Frank told us Tanzanian houses the 3rd largest population of African elephants with 50,000 elephants in 2010. In 1991, the elephant population was 150,000. Today in Tanzania, elephant conservation provides 40% of the income for the country as a whole. People have discovered that bee sounds drive elephants away. They are putting this knowledge to use by building beehives and posting or hanging them as a preventive border to keep the beautiful beasts out of towns, as well as crops.
Money paid for this tour is all given over for conservation of elephants in Africa and Asia. None of it goes into Disney’s coffers. An honorable act, all and all I suggest this tour for anyone who loves elephants. I wish the elephants would have come closer, or that it would have been longer, still, it’s a unique opportunity to donate to a great cause. Only at Walt Disney World can you donate $30 to elephant conservation and get back such a unique gift in return.
*Dreams Unlimited Travel is an official sponsor of the DIS.