What does it take to take care of giant African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? The Walt Disney Resort is introducing a new tour, Caring for Giants, with a behind-the-scenes experience that answers just that. The new elephant excursion begins March 12, 2017 and is now open for reservations.
Caring for Giants, Up Close with Elephants
The new experience is family-friendly and open to anyone over the age of 4. I went on one of the tours recently during the recent Disney Social Media Mom Celebration, as part of a preview. There were at least 5 elephants no more than 100 feet away from us!
There is a new baby elephant named Stella at Animal Kingdom. She is less than 6 months old. This little giant weighs over 300 pounds and is incredibly playful. She is surrounded by her sisters and her mother, Donna; you can certainly feel the love. During the visit we saw the elephants interact, play, eat and apply sunblock (in the shape of dirt). It leaves you in awe to see them in such a natural setting traveling around with all their tonnage.
The tour feels a bit like out of a movie since you come in from behind the park, along a river bed and park behind a small hill. As you walk up the ramp to the elephant pen, you slowly emerge into the shadows of trees, within ear shot of the large mammals. Only a small fence and ravine separate you from the peaceful pachyderms.
The animal keepers are available to explain what goes into caring for the elephants. The question and answer sessions with the animal specialists were fun, yet informative, with questions such as what they eat, how they interact and even who gets along and plays nice with the herd. Who would have thought elephants had drama and preferences on who to hang out with?
African cultural representatives are also on hand to share stories of Disney’s conservation efforts dedicated to the preservation of wild populations throughout their homeland. Make sure to ask about the story of the bees and their effects on the elephants.
A portion of the proceeds for the tour is dedicated to Disney’s conservation efforts. The African cultural representatives also share stores of the preservation efforts of wild populations back on the African continent. As of this post, Disney has provided over $2.4 million to support elephants throughout the world, with $1.8 million going specifically to African elephants such as the ones you will see on the adventure.
Animal Kingdom is now taking reservations for Caring for Giants. You can make an appointment by calling (407) 939-7529. The cost is $30 per person and the tour lasts about an hour. Discounts are available for Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. Tours are available 10 times a day from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.