Think of an animal who is big enough to eat three times the weight of a grown man in one day and is fast enough to outrun a human. An animal that can drink six hundred cups of water a day and swim for six hours non-stop, and is happy both in and out of the water.
Now imagine sitting on the bank of the Waccamaw River near Myrtle Beach and encountering one of these large animals with someone riding on her back.
I’m talking about Bubbles the elephant and she’s worked on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with Jim Carrey and on Dr Dolittle with Eddie Murphy. Bubbles also appeared in a Janet Jackson music video. She’s used to an audience.
This is the story of Bubbles as told by the man who rides on her back, Dr. Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, founder of the T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve in Myrtle Beach.
"In 1984 our lives changed forever when a new 350 pound 42 inch tall baby girl came into our lives. This "baby" was Bubbles our African elephant. For an elephant she was very small and helpless. She had a very sad story to tell with a happy ending. Hundreds of thousands of elephants were killed for their ivory tusks between 1970 and 1989, when the slaughter ended because the ban on ivory import was put into effect. Along with the thousands of elephants killed, thousands of babies were left to die. Most of these orphans were either destroyed, since their was no place in Africa to house and care for them, or they starved to death. Bubbles was one of the few lucky ones that were put on a plane and flown to the United States where a handful of animal facilities awaited their arrival.
The decision to care for an elephant was not a light one though, it was a lifelong commitment since elephants live 60 to 100 years, but we decided we were ready. T.I.G.E.R.S. was there when the plane landed and the babies were unloaded. One particularly small girl caught our eye. It was love at first site and we knew that this baby girl had to come home. Bubbles home is at T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve in Myrtle Beach. What a delight and enormous undertaking Bubbles has been.
Bubbles has become a true member of our family. Out little girl is now 26 years old and over 9 feet tall, weighing almost 4 tons. She loves to go for rides through the countryside, while browsing on greenery, and swimming in the inter coastal waterway which is next to our home. Bubbles has a very affectionate relationship with us since she works very little, unlike a circus elephant. Bubbles has had her moments of fame though. She has starred in Ace Ventura II, Malaika – HBO Special Movie, a Janet Jackson video and even some magazine photo shoots and ads. We would never trade these last 20 happy years; the moments and memories will last a lifetime."
Want to meet Bubbles for yourself? You can at T.I.G.E.R.S. (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species); this is a one of kind Myrtle Beach Attraction. On this Carolina Safair, you will also see White Tigers, a liger and other amazing animals at one of the most exciting animal adventures ever. All proceeds from the tour go to The Rare Species Fund and The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species. For reservations, go to www.myrtlebeachsafari.com/.