Have you ever touched an elephant?

During our last trip to Knysna in the Western Cape, we visited the Knysna Elephant Park (est. 1994) which is the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants.

It was a wonderful experience and we learned that over the last twenty years, the park has cared for and raised more than forty elephants. These animals cared for by the park include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls and ex-circus animals. Some remain long term and become part of the resident herd, while others are eventually moved to other reserves and facilities in the Western and Eastern Cape. The decision as to whether to keep an animal at the park permanently or find another good home for it depends on the animal’s personality, bonds with other animals and welfare needs.

You can find out more about the Knysna Elephant Park here: https://knysnaelephantpark.co.za/

My dad and my older son, Gregory, petting one of the elephants
My dad showing my mom how to pet one of the elephants. Mom was a bit nervous of his large size.


My dad had a go at feeding an elephant
My dad, my younger son, Michael, and I enjoyed petting the elephant while the keeper looked on
An elephant in front of one of the shelters

51 thoughts on “Have you ever touched an elephant?

      1. My wife and I have a South Africa trip in early planning for 2022 – we will take the time to really explore – especially after the travel to get there from LA!

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      2. Robbie, there is a nonstop Delta flight from Atlanta, so I think we will probably do the whole thing in one go! We plan to stay for weeks in order to make that grueling flight worthwhile!

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    1. It was, DArlene. This was a great trip to Knysna and I was happy to re-visit after so many years. I lived in the nearby town of George for two years when I was 11 and 12 years old and have great memories of the freedom and enjoyment of this area.

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      1. It is so wonderful to revisit special places with your own kids. I took my grandson to a dinosaur park that I used to love visiting and it was so great to see him enjoy it as well. BTW, I had a friend who came from George in South Africa.

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  1. I certainly have not ever touched an elephant. I would like to but I would make sure to keep my toes out of the way. It’s good the elephants have proper elephant company. I can imagine them discussing their varied backgrounds!

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  2. What a great memory for your family! I have touched an elephant before. I remember the skin being considerably rougher than I imagined.

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  3. Hi Robbie. Lovely post. My parents took my sister and I on holiday to the then, Rhodesia, in 1971. A friend of my parents had a farm there, just outside a game reserve. He was also a wildlife vet and had various injured and orphaned wildlife on his farm, including elephants. My dad and I rode one that the vet had looked after since it was orphaned as a tiny baby. I will always remember that experience. Unfortunately the farm, the vet and his animals, are no longer around.

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  4. I’m one of those terrible people that likes to note physical traits common between relatives, and you definitely have some traits from your dad! And it seems Michael’s inherited your mom’s hat-wearing predilection!

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    1. Thank you, H. My son, Michael, was such a funny little boy. He loved to dress up and most of the pictures I have of him, he is Peter Pan or Skywalker or even Yoda. My dad and I both love animals. We share two cats.

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