Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Elephant Trainer for a day at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay

A few weeks ago, my fiance Gabe and I had the opportunity to be Elephant trainers for a day at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay. This was such an amazing hands on experience that one would never have unless they were actual trainers. Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian and work with large animals. Being an animal trainer for a day was truly a dream come true for the little girl who still lives inside of me.
Gabe and I arrived to Busch Gardens at 7:15am for orientation. We happened to be on the Advocare cleanse at the time, which meant - NO CAFFEINE. It was rough y'all. We met our leader for the day, Nancy, and learned all about elephants.
Busch Gardens uses positive reinforcement training, where the animals are rewarded for good activity vs. punished for bad activity. This means the trainers do not have hand on hand contact with the elephants. After orientation, we saw the amazing structure the elephants are housed in.
After meeting a few of the girls, we headed out to have some time with them on the safari. We fed Carina the elephant and saw some of her amazing moves, including spraying water all over us!!!

Prior to breaking for lunch, we built prize snack boxes. Everything from sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, grain, greens, you name it.
We enjoyed a lunch as part of our experience at Dessert Grill. I was pleased to see there were options on there menu for those on a diet - I enjoyed grilled chicken and vegetables, while Gabe slightly cheated on his diet with meatballs. Oops. We then went for a short visit around Busch Gardens. I mean - this sloth....really!!
After we got back to the Elephants, it was time for some fun in the sun - or rain. Everyday, the elephants get an "easter egg hunt" where their keepers give them obstacle courses of activities with food and games as prizes.Right as we started placing various obstacles, it started pouring. Not a big deal and we continued on.
Elephants say bring on the crossfit!
A few things which surprised me - elephants LOVE marshmallows so we built a Peep tree for them on bamboo. Their sweet tooth continues with their love of Skittles, which is veterinarian approved.

We placed large piles and single candies along their scavenger hunt. It was amazing watching them pick up one candy at a time.
One of the funnest items on the Easter egg hunt was watching the girls go for the "popsicle" A melon inside of a fruit flavored ice cube.

We finished our day at 3:00pm and the fist thing I said upon getting in the car was, "when can we do this again".

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