Every day at 3:00 Busch Gardens plan a play time for the Elephants. Their viewing area is revamped once a day and turned into a playground. It’s about a hundred yards long with a pond, several waterfalls made from hoses, and toys such as a truck tire, a large ball and stacking toys.
Watching the set up is quite interesting. They have a team of people that come in and dig holes to plant the palm fronds the elephants are going to eat. They are essentially recreating the wild. Using a post hole digger, they scatter a dozen or so new palm trees around the play area. It looks very inviting and fresh.
Next they set up the toy area. The stacking toys have holes in the center and they put a bag of apples, bunches of grapes and other small fruits inside and then stack them up. They are very heavy so it is quite dramatic to watch them get the blocks stacked as high as perhaps eight to ten feet high. While we were watching one of the team actually took a tumble after stacking the last block.
Then the elephants are released after the team has gone. The first two that came out were the mother and daughter elephants, Karnaudi and Corrina. Karnaudi immediately knocked down the stack of blocks with her trunk! There was a gasp from the audience, but she marched on while her mother, Corrina looked for the fruit inside. Karnaudi went over to the next block and picked it up and tossed it into the gulf between us and the playground.
Karnaudi went on to the pond and tossed the giant red ball in. She has figured out that the fruit inside is displaced by the water and will float out. She was busy rolling the ball and playing while the rest of the herd of five females came out. Rosie, Simba and Tina ambled out. Rosie is the shortest elephant. She is only 7.5 feet tall. She was busy chomping on the palm fronds. Tina is the Matriarch of the herd. She has been known to nudge the others out of the way and they always give in to her. She sometimes outright pushes them but that is the extent of it. She rarely does more than that. Simba is the tallest at 98 feet tall and the oldest of the elephants. She has the longest trunk and she was able to reach the coconut they put on a post in the middle of the gulf between the playground and us. She found it today and stomped on it to open it to get out the coconut.
They were all entertaining to watch. The event lasted close to an hour with the set up and play time. I would have loved to see some benches along the hundred yards of fence overlooking the playground but no one else seemed to mind standing and watching. The children were excited each time an elephant spotted an apple hidden in or behind a rock or tree trunk. We had watched them being placed and it looked like they would be hard to find. I noticed the grapes were not eaten as a bunch, but individually. Amazing!
This was by far the most interesting animal show for me. I’ve been to the park several times before but this is the first time I’ve seen this event. I will plan all my visits now to include this elephant play time.
This is just an afternoon snack for the elephants. They have a full meal elsewhere. The fruits are a big treat and the announcer, Tim said they really look forward to this time. Each day fruit and toys are placed in different areas, palm fronds are planted in new places. It keeps the elephants on their toes.
This was by far the most interesting animal show for me. I’ve been to the park several times but this is the first time I’ve seen this event. I will plan all my visits now to include the elephant play time.
Busch Gardens is located in the heart of Tampa, Florida.
10165 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive
Tampa, FL 33612
888 800 5447
Open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Source: Personal Visit
Tim, Busch Gardens Elephant Guide