For Christmas, Mom and Dad got Jared and me a gift certificate for the Two Tail Ranch Extreme Elephant Encounter. It was one of the most incredible experiences Jared and I have ever done together.
Two Tail Ranch is an elephant facility in Williston, Florida (about 20 minutes outside of Gainesville) where you can take a private tour to learn about and interact with elephants up close and personally.
We were with a group of about 50 people for most of the tour and at the end, everyone except the 8 of us doing the Extreme Encounter left. In our group of 50, were Ryan’s friend Kyle and my friend Kylie from DNZ. It’s such a small world!
To start the tour, everyone sits under a covered area and the owner gives a little talk about the facility and the elephants. Then, she opens the floor to questions, of which there were many. All the while, Luke the elephant is roaming behind the owner in his enclosure. It was very interesting to hear the owner talk because of her extensive knowledge about not only the elephants she takes care of, but of the terrible fate of the elephant population in the wild.
After her talk, Luke the elephant did some painting while the crowd delightedly watched on. Then he lied down and one by one each person sat on his leg for a picture. We had to hold his ear back so he wouldn’t smack us in the face!
We made our way to another part of the facility where we could feed two other elephants. Each person was given two carrots and fed one to each of the elephants. It was so funny how they grabbed it out of our hands with the little finger on the end of their trunks.
While we were waiting for everyone to feed the elephants, we were able to look at the other exotic animals in the area. In addition to about 8 elephants, Two Tail Ranch also has 2 zebras, an emu, an ostrich, 3 tortoises, a camel, and some lemurs.
We were led over to 2 other elephants who were set up for us to ride. Jared and I rode Patty the elephant and it was a lot less scary than I thought it was going to be. I was kind of scared before we got on because of how tall the elephants are, but they didn’t seem so big once we were riding her. We did a little loop around a field before we got off.
This was the point that everyone else left and it was just the Extreme Encounter couples. Patty the elephant was led into the bathing warehouse and we took turns in pairs washing her. The owner had Patty lie on her side (which we learned elephants can only do for 15-45 minutes at a time) and she was washed twice on that side before repeating the process on her other side. The bath was my favorite part by far. I loved getting to be so close to such a huge creature.
After she was all clean, Patty was brought outside again and the Extreme Encounter couples got as much time as we wanted to take pictures with her. When Patty first came out for the first couple, she was carrying a gift bag on the end of her trunk. The girl took it off and opened the gift, which had a little box inside. Her boyfriend took the box, got down on one knee, and PROPOSED!! I have to admit, I was tearing up. It was such a special moment to see and such a cool setting to do it in! (She said yes, by the way).
Jared and I took some selfies and other cute pictures with Patty. She liked Jared’s legs and kept running her trunk up them. I even got to give her a kiss on her trunk. We were so scared that it was going to rain and we wouldn’t be able to do the Extreme Encounter today, but the rain held off until the very end when we were taking pictures!
After pictures, we picked out our painting by Luke to take home and were on our way back to Bradenton.
I would highly recommend the Extreme Encounter to anyone who loves animals. It made the experience that much more memorable and the extreme activities really were the best part in my opinion. Jared and I had an amazing time and came away having an even deeper appreciation for the few elephants we still have left in the world.