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FFA Students Visit Elephant Refuge

Students from Riverview, Strawberry Crest and Lennard high schools got a close-up look at elephants at the Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk County.

Future Farmers of America students got a chance to examine an elephant farmers rarely encounter.

FFA students from Riverview, Strawberry Crest and Lennard high schools attended an Animal Care Seminar at the Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk County Nov. 16 to learn more about the Asian elephant and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's conservation efforts.

Students toured part of the 200-acre facility and participated in an interactive seminar. The students were also able to get up close and personal with a couple of the elephants and feed them.

With less than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and the habitat of those in the wild increasingly threatened, captive breeding programs like the one at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation are vital to the survival of this species.

Built in 1995, the $5 million facility has been the birthplace for 24 Asian elephants.

On Thanksgiving Day, children from the Tampa Metropolitan Area and the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay will have their own pachyderm encounter at the Florida State Fairgrounds

The kids will join Ringling Bros. circus families in helping to feed the circus elephants a Thanksgiving feast consisting of pumpkins, fruit, bread and other holiday treats.

For those anxious to see the elephants perform, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present "Built To Amaze," featuring the elephants, tigers, acrobats and aerialists. The world premiere of the show is Jan. 2-6 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For show times and ticket information visit www.ringling.com.

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