Myakka Elephant Ranch fights 44th Avenue East expansion

Myakka Elephant Ranch
Myakka Elephant Ranch(WWSB)
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 7:19 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYAKKA CITY, Fla. (WWSB) - Much like Hunsader Farms, Myakka Elephant Ranch is rallying support to fight back against possible changes in the area. The Manatee County Commissioners are voting to amend the 44th Avenue East proposed alignment.

Myakka Elephant Ranch is just off Verna Bethany Road parallel to County Road 675, near Hunsader Farms. The alignment would make way for two possible roads, with one cutting through Hunsader Farms’ tiny village and part of their petting zoo, according to farm owner David Hunsader. The new road would also eliminate parking for Hunsader’s annual pumpkin festival.

“We park 3,000 cars here a day during the festival, so it will just be a nightmare to get them in somewhere else for the festival in one lot,” said Hunsader.

The other road would expand 44th Avenue East cutting directly through Myakka Elephant Ranch’s northern elephant habitat, according to Chief Operations Officer Julia Braren.

“Through other people are posting about it, we did see something saying it was 182 feet wide, and that goes through this elephant habitat behind me and takes out a huge part of it,” said Braren.

The ranch rescues elephants and gives them a safe place to call home in Manatee County. Braren explained with the road cutting into the habitat, it will directly affect the elephants.

“The elephants don’t make a lot of noise and they have excellent hearing. They have an excellent sense of smell and they can hear what’s going on miles away. They can communicate miles apart and they can smell water about four miles away. So, things will impact them that don’t necessarily impact somebody 100 yards away,” explained Braren.

One visitor to the habitat, Victoria Stephens from North Carolina, saw the elephants for the first time Monday. After she heard about the possible changes, she signed a petition against the proposed road.

Stephens emphasized that elephants’ homes are no different from those of humans and should be respected.

“Our homes are very important to us and we wouldn’t like it if somebody was doing that or planning that in our own home. These animals are sentient beings that are just as important as we are and we need to not lose sight of that,” said Stephens.

Manatee County Commissioners will be voting on the amendment for the 44th Avenue East proposed alignment on Thursday Feb. 16.