Tucked away in French Lick, Indiana there’s a spa where you are not the one getting pampered, but rather the one doing the work.
“What you guys have signed up for is chores,” the owner of the place, Jerry Fuhs, told the crowd.
Some of the people traveled for hours to get to the spa, located up on a hill inside of a barn.
“Who wouldn’t enjoy a spa day right?” one of the visitors, Janel Meyer, said.
This spa has proven that pachyderms like pampering too. At the Wilstem Ranch it’s as up close as you can get.
With a ticket you get to bathe an elephant. The kids get to paint the elephant’s toenails.
The retreat is the brainchild of Fuhs who bought the property nearly 30 years ago.
“For me it was a getaway spot,” he said.
Fuhs owns the three female African elephants. Two of them were orphans. Their mothers were poached.
“It’s a real tragedy and it’s astonishing how many elephants are getting killed,” Fuhs said.
The three elephants are now a family. One of them, Makia, has taken on the mother role.
“Makia is an animal that really loves people. I mean she stands right there and loves to be patted on,” Fuhs said.
“It was an amazing experience being able to actually touch the elephant and wash the elephant. It just made me so happy,” another visitor, Brooke Jabo, said.
After the bath visitors can ask any elephant question they want. Then it’s snack time – for the elephants.
Fuhs hopes this experience will spark a love for these animals who he considers family.
“And that’s pretty rewarding,” he said.
When the elephants are not getting a bath they roam free on 10 acres of land.
They will stay in Indiana until October, then the snowbirds will travel to Florida for the winter.