Caring for Giants tour – Animal Kingdom Park
Animal Kingdom Park offers a variety of different tours showing you everything from how the barns and stables are ran to how they care for the creatures living in the parks vast acreage. My family and I had the privilege of attending the “Caring for Giants” tour on our past trip, last July. And boy did it not disappoint!
The tour began at the animal tours cart directly in front of the Kilimanjaro Safari standby line, and the Harambe Fruit Market. There we were greeted by our tour guides, issued name tags, and given bottles of water. Shortly after arrival we were given an overview of the tours activities. The tour consisted of a behind the scenes view of the elephants habitat, an educational discussion with the caretakers of the animals and a photo opportunity from the look out point.
The observation deck for the tour is behind the park, so we had to be escorted behind the gates, and taken by air-conditioned bus to the vantage point. The air-conditioned bus was such a treat in July because it was near 100 degrees out! During our ride out, our first tour guide answered questions and pointed out different features of the behind the scenes animal areas. From the truck we were able to see the barns for the alligators, giraffe, and other animals of the park. We were also able to see the massive parking spots and trucks of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. The ride to the vantage point was about 15 minutes long.
Once at the elephant look out we were escorted up a long deck of stairs to the top vantage point, where we could see out over the elephant habitat. This vantage point is on the opposite side of the elephant habitat than the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. So, we could see the trucks across from us the entire tour. Which was pretty neat. It is here that we met our second tour guide, who in fact was a care taker for the giants. She explained to us the matriarchically structured elephant herd and how their daily lives went. She then answered our questions regarding the species. Such as, what they ate and how they communicated etc. For example, did you know that a female elephant weights 7,900 to 10,000 pounds? And that they eat on average 660 pounds of food a day? She also explained to us how the female elephants live in a matriarchally structured herd, while the males tend to be loners. It was extremely interesting and informative.
After the care taker was done answering questions, our third and final guide met us on the viewing deck. This guide was an international exchange student with the college program. She was a native of Africa, and she explained to us what was being done to conserve the elephant population. She explained the dangers that the elephants were facing back in Africa and what was being done to prevent the poaching of the diminishing species. You see the African elephants face three dangers, poaching, environmental dangers, and human conflict. From conservation efforts of the African people and Disney over the past few years several plans have been developed and implemented. These efforts have helped to save the lives of thousands of elephants. Included in these efforts are the Elephants and Bee project and the elephant alarm collar projects. Disney uses the money raised by this tour to fund the conservation project which contributes to these efforts.
Before heading back to the park and completing the tour, we were given about 10 minutes to take photos and speak freely with the tour guides. I found this tour to be very worth the cost, and extremely informative. I brought my husband, niece (age 8) and son (age 4) along with me. I would gladly do it again. Even my niece and son were thrilled by the tour and seeing the elephants up close and personal. The tour is about one half hour long, costs $30 per person, and runs everyday on average at 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM , 12:30 PM and 1:00 PM.