Today was a holiday, so my entire household leisurely slept late. We had breakfast and then scurried about to get ready to go to the circus which was in town this weekend. The girls have been talking about it all week, the youngest telling everyone there would be elephants at the circus and adorably demonstrating her version of the noise they make. We left early so we would have time to enjoy the petting zoo, rides, and other kid friendly attractions before the show. Upon our arrival, we saw signs advertising “ELEPHANT RIDES THIS WAY!” and “RIDE A CAMEL = ONLY 4 TICKETS!” We joked about riding the elephant but our five-year-old was not very enthusiastic so we moved on to the bounce houses. While the girls played, I watched as others climbed on and off the elephant. I started to think what an interesting experience that would be for a child. And then I started to think what an interesting experience it would be for me. Starting with the whole how-the-hell-would-I-get-my-leg-over-that-elephant’s-colossal-back experience. I watched for a bit longer and noticed that a few adults were riding with their children. This prompted me to start trying to convince my child that she needed to ride the elephant, hoping I wouldn’t have to resort to begging. I felt a little silly about the whole thing – I mean the attraction is clearly aimed at children. And I seriously wasn’t sure I would be able to get onto the animal without hurting it or myself. Finally, I decided that worse case scenario, something embarrassing would happen and I would have a great story to tell. So I calculated how much money it would take to buy the necessary tickets for two elephant rides – about $3,754 for eight tickets. Or you would have thought it was that much when I asked my husband to hand over a twenty. I convinced him I needed to ride for research purposes and because I’m so cute and clever, he caved.
The Time I Mounted A Pachyderm
There was only one group ahead of us so we didn’t wait long. My child was gently lifted onto the waiting pachyderm and then it was my turn to heft myself up onto the enormous back. This process, and that’s what it was – a process – felt as if it took about forty-five minutes but observers assured me it was merely seconds. I decided to leave my shoes on the platform, grabbed the handrails (don’t all beasts of burden have handrails?) and pulled with all my might. Eventually, I was straddling the elephant but somehow my foot had gotten tangled up behind me so I righted that and we were off.
The Ride Of My Life
Riding an elephant is both calming, due to a most relaxing side to side swaying motion and positively terrifying, as at any moment, he could be spooked by some shrieking child or burst of wind and we could be launched from his back to our untimely deaths. From the ground, I had no earthly idea just how high up we would be but elephants are very tall and provide an unbelievable view. I’m not so sure the view from the ground during our ride was as pleasing but I’ll tell you about that in a minute. It was really cool to feel the elephant’s muscles work as he lugged us around the enclosure. I think the ride was only a few minutes but these few minutes will be hard to forget; definitely a contender for the top of my favorite memories list.
Tsk-Tsk, Lesson Learned
This experience prompted me to read up on elephants which is standard operating procedure for me (i.e. do something new, read as much as I can about it, and share all my new delightful bits of knowledge with my friends and family until they are ready to choke me). Sadly, I have learned that my really great memory actually was potentially harmful to the elephant. There is a great deal of evidence that animals used in circuses are not being well treated. Elephant rides are particularly unpopular with animal rights activists who condemn circuses for their use of animals to entertain. While we had a great time, I would not have knowingly contributed to the abuse of an animal.
Me ≥ The Mass of an Asian Elephant
I learned about more than the unethical treatment of animals today. Photos were taken while my child and I were making memories. And I’ve seen some of them. Long story short, I don’t look good on an elephant. My husband, dear sweet man that he is, tried to convince me that it was the way I was sitting, that side saddle would have been more flattering. He gets lots of points for trying. One would think that sitting on the back of the world’s largest land mammal would make one’s ass appear smaller. Nope. New rule of thumb: If straddling an elephant doesn’t make you seem slimmer, it’s time to call Jenny Craig.
On the bright side, I’ll take motivation to lose weight wherever I can get it. Next up: Swimming with orcas. Bring your cameras folks, I think I see a wetsuit in my future!