Photos by Kelsey Walters
Florida is widely known for its ideal climate. Not only do tourists and retirees flock to our state in masses, its perfect ly warm and sunny weather gives way to an enormous range of wildlife. It is also why so many ranches and nature facilities are centered in Florida. Besides our world-famous beaches, the interior of the state is lined with ample waterways and grassy expanses.
Two Tails Ranch in Williston offers Elephant Encounters
Two Tails Ranch was first established in 1984 as a one-of-a-kind home, both temporary and permanent, specifically for a warm weather loving species – elephants. Family owned and operated for nearly 40 years, Two Tails Ranch has seen around 300 elephants stay at the ranch for a number of reasons, including medical needs, retirement from zoo and educational programs and temporary housing such as when their enclosures are renovated. In fact, during major storms like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, nearly every elephant in Florida wound up at the ranch seeking shelter.
Currently, eight elephants call Two Tails home and visitors can get a first-hand look at the incredible creatures. Tours of the ranch include a front row seat to one of the elephant’s habitats while owner, Patricia, gives you the lowdown on her family’s beloved residents. Patricia is part of the ninth generation of her family to work with exotic animal species, and everyone on the ranch – right down to the grandchildren – are involved in their care.
During the tour, questions are welcomed and our ever-curious Avery took the opportunity to fuel her inquisitive mind with inquiries including whether elephants enjoy the same snacks as she does and just what on earth those giant ears are for.
Meet Wildlife at Two Tails Ranch in Florida
After learning about the ranch’s largest occupants, we took a tour of the rest of the grounds and met the other animals that call this special place home, including Grant zebras, African and red footed tortoises, ostriches, emus, a camel, and an energetic family of lemurs.
We had the chance to meet one of the elephants, Marie, and gently stroke her cheek and trunk while she posed for a photo with us. This was truly an unforgettable experience as we stood in wonder and realized the true enormous size of these special creatures. We were able to hand-feed them crunchy carrots, which resulted in squeals erupting from Avery as their trunks wrapped around her tiny fingers. Marie offered up a few happy squeals herself.
Scott and Avery got the ride of a lifetime as they climbed atop one of the massive animals and took a stroll around the paddock . This special experience was magical for Avery and she’s still talking about it.
Tours last around 1 to 1.5 hours and involve minimal walking so they are easily accessible to all members of your family. If you’re looking for even more one-on-one time and want to make a day of your visit, sign up for the Extreme Encounter. This includes the tour, feedings, photos and ride, as well as exclusive personal time with the elephants by giving them a bath and rub down or other activities depending on their schedule and weather that day.
A “trunk-painted” gift of one of the elephant paintings (yes, they can do that, too!) is also included in your tour . Because of the interaction with the animals, this tour is only available for those 12 and older. To book any of the tours, call or email to get available dates and times. Group tours are also available.
The old adage may be, “an elephant never forgets,” but a trip to Two Tails Ranch is an unforgettable experience that’s sure to create memories to last you a lifetime!
TWO TAILS RANCH
Tours by appointment only, not available Thursdays
- $20/adult; $10/child (2 through 9, 2 and under are free)
- Hand-feeding: $5/person
- Photo opportunity: $25/person
- Rides: $40/person
- Extreme encounter: $200/person
All photos by Kelsey Walters, property of East Coast Current