MYAKKA CITY, Fla. – Floridians can get up close to the largest existing land animal and help care for them at the Myakka Elephant Ranch in Manatee County.
The Myakka Elephant Ranch is a nonprofit conservation center in Myakka City that strives to educate guests on elephant conservation while providing a memorable experience.
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The ranch was started by Lou Barreda in October 2019. After graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2018, he traveled to South Africa for the 16th International Elephant Conservation and Research Symposium, according to the ranch’s website.
Barreda’s trip inspired him to start Myakka Elephant Ranch in southwest Florida.
With 30 acres of land, the ranch cares for two female Asian elephants and one female African savanna elephant. The two Asian elephants were bought to retire them from the entertainment industry, and the African elephant was orphaned due to a culling, according to the ranch’s website.
African and Asian elephants have over 10 distinct physical differences, according to the World Wildlife Fund. For example, Asian elephants’ ears are smaller than the large fan-shaped African elephant ears, according to WWF.
Floridians and tourists can look for other distinctions themselves when they go visit the majestic creatures. Myakka Elephant Ranch offers packages that include bathing elephants, helping feed them or just learning about them.
Here are the packages the ranch has to offer:
VIP Rise and Shine
- This experience lets visitors see elephants eat breakfast, give them treats and have one-on-one time with the elephants.
- Visitors will then help bathe an elephant.
- The experience is one hour long at $189 per person.
Elephant Spa Encounter
- It’s the most loved encounter at the elephant ranch, according to its website.
- Guests help care for the elephants for one hour, and then they get a 45-minute educational experience.
- It costs $89 for guests ages 9 and up and $69 for guests ages 5-8.
Elephant Education Encounter
- For $29 per person, guests will touch the elephants while learning all about them in 45 minutes.
- There’s also an opportunity to take a family photo with these majestic animals.
Read this story in Spanish here.
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