When asked what my favorite animal is, I always answer with a tie--elephants and giraffes. Some have said that because I'm a tall guy, I might subconsciously be drawn to tall animals. Whatever. I like giraffes and elephants.

Gorillas come in third, and I've made a jaunt to the Louisville Zoo just to see its awesome gorilla sanctuary, but not all zoos have the number of gorillas that Louisville's does. That's not typically an issue with elephants.

WHERE TO SEE ELEPHANTS NEARBY

I'd imagine elephants are among the most common creatures you'd find at a zoo. And while some zoos may have developed unfavorable reputations at times, zoos really are highly educational facilities, as well as being a ton of fun.

Even more so--in the education department--are wildlife sanctuaries, which offer far more in-depth learning experiences. And yet, they're still fun.

THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY IN TENNESSEE

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is one such facility.

Located about 80 miles southwest of Nashville, the sanctuary provides a safe haven for elephants who are often targets of poachers in their native lands. Of course, that is despicable. So in south-central Tennessee, they have a large area to roam and stay safe. The sanctuary also educates the public about these magnificent creatures, why they need safe spaces, and the dangers they face in the wild.

BEFORE YOU VISIT THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY IN TENNESSEE

If you plan a visit, know that you can observe these fantastic beasts ahead of time by way of "EleCams" on the sanctuary's website. The cameras cover three different habitats--the Asia Habitat, the Q Habitat, and the Africa Habitat. You can also participate in a fun EleCam Scavenger Hunt.

While viewing the cam or visiting in person, you'll become acquainted with Billie, Debbie, Minnie, Ronnie, Sissy, Flora, Nosey, Sukari, and Tange. And it looks like Flora loves her Easter egg hunt.

And, certainly, you'll want to let Debbie enjoy her swim.

When you do visit--and admission is free, but donations are welcome--staff members will be available to answer any questions you might have. But there are also maps if you want to venture out on your own.

MY FAVORITE ELEPHANT MEMORY

When I was a kid, there was a small circus in front of K-mart at Wesleyan Park Plaza, and I can remember--like it was yesterday--my mom, my sister, and I climbing on top of an elephant and going for a ride.

That was when my fascination began. Of course, THAT experience was purely for entertainment. I don't expect that opportunity will present itself at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, but the trip will probably be even more rewarding.

The sanctuary is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM.

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