Animal encounters are the perfect way to, not only get up-close and personal with amazing animals but to educate you on them as well. (If you missed out on my last animal encounter experience you can still read it here or even watch it here!) I am a huge animal lover! As a child, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve helped deliver kittens, rescued baby bunnies, ducks, birds, and even raised some orphaned raccoons. I still enjoy animals and will continue to find ways to get as close to them as possible.

*Sorry my pictures aren't the best! It was very hard to obtain any decent images. The shed was dark, dull and did not photograph well. :(


Wilstem Ranch offers an unique intimate experience to guests where they are able to observe, learn and interact with elephants. The Wilstem Ranch offers 2 elephant encounters. You have a choice of the one hour Educational Seminar or the two hour Spa Appointment. I, of course picked the Spa Appointment. I wanted to get the most out of my visit at Wilstem.

Wilstem Ranch also has a new activity to their facility this year. They will now have a Giraffe Encounter. You will be able to learn about the giraffes as well as have the opportunity to feed them.

Check out their website to see all the other activities they offer as well as reserve your elephant or giraffe encounter.


Makia, Lovie and Lou are the three very sweet African elephants I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend. They are originally from Kruger National Park in South Africa and were shipped to the United States. Yes, they were in the circus and everything but not anymore! These three are retired. Now they visit Indiana eight months out of the year getting spa treatments and return to Florida in the Winter.


After checking into the office, a bus picked us up and drove us up to the shed where the appointment took place. The appointment started off with the staff bringing in one elephant at a time. Each guest was able to be apart of bath time by either scrubbing, rinsing or painting their toenails. I actually went twice. I was able to rinse and paint their nails! Since every guest is able to be a part of the spa, there's a bit of wait in-between. Which got boring. But, right after bath time the staff provided us with a great educational seminar that included the life history of the elephants, fun facts about them, and even had the elephant complete a couple of enjoyable demonstrations. Once the education session was complete, the Wilstem Staff brought each of the elephants back out. We then had the opportunity to get closer, take photos and actually connect with them.

Location and Directions

Wilstem Ranch is located off Indiana State Route 56/Highway 150. It's halfway between French Lick and Paoli. You kind of have to wing it! We followed the map that was posted on their website. At first, the map was a bit confusing but that was til we got to Paoli. It all made sense after Paoli. The Wilstem Ranch drive way is hidden from the way we came. You go around a curve, see a sign and make that quick turn. So just be ready! You go down the winding drive, through the covered bridge, over the hills then you will see the red barn.

Reminder: If you are coming from my neck of the woods, they are an hour ahead of us!!

If you've visited Wilstem Ranch for one of the elephant encounters, I would love to hear about your experience! Please fill free to comment below!


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