A week ago, James and I were very lucky, and were able to feed, pet, and get up close and personal with an elephant.
First, let me back up and explain what’s going on. For Valentine’s Day this year, James gifted me an “Elephant Kiss” from the Sedgwick County Zoo, which means the elephants had paint on the end of their trunks, and “kissed” the canvas, leaving a gorgeous and totally unique art piece. My aunt, Debi, volunteers at the zoo, and was able to set it up for us to meet the artist herself.
My “Elephant Kiss” print was done by the elephant Cinda. Cinda is about 42 years old, and has lived at the Sedgwick County Zoo for most of her life. She and her elephant buddy Stephanie are about the same age, and were both brought from Africa to reside at the zoo. The zoo-keepers told us that Stephanie is the smaller elephant, but she is the boss, and though Cinda is larger, she is pretty timid.
We got to pet, feel, and feed Stephanie, as Cinda was being weighed (monthly weigh-ins to ensure the elephants aren’t gaining/losing too much!). Then we got to pose with our “Elephant Kiss” artist, Cinda. It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I cannot express how excited I was to meet both of the elephants!
It was amazing to see and feel first hand how gentle and intelligent these great animals were. We watched their training, which is done daily, to keep their minds sharp and to keep them active. The keepers said they know about 80 “tricks,” including “dance,” “march,” “sit,” and “salute.” We only saw a few minutes of training, but the elephants are very smart.
The zoo-keepers surprised us and also offered for us to meet and feed BiBi the Rhino! I was nervous at first… a few years ago I was partially sprayed by a rhino at a different zoo (not a fun experience!) Turns out BiBi was super nice, and gentle, and we fed her a bucket of bananas.
The entire day was just amazing. After we fed and met the elephants and rhino, we saw the penguins get fed (it was World Penguin Day), and we saw the orangutans and chimpanzees that Debi volunteers with every week.
I have always loved the zoo, and it was such a unique experience to do something that not everyone can do. It is a memory I will cherish, and I look forward to taking our children to the zoo someday and hopefully they will share the same love of animals that I do!
If you ever get a chance to meet an elephant, TAKE IT!! It was a fantastic experience, and I’m so happy I was able to do it with James and Debi.
Have you ever gotten to feed or meet a rare animal?