One of seven elephants to call Six Flags Great Adventure's Wild Safari home, Joyce has a unique set of skills and talents that set her apart from her friends and family.

I recently had the opportunity to travel "backstage" at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson to meet a very special elephant. Truly, meeting and interacting with Joyce was a landmark moment of my career and my life.

Here are five things I learned about Joyce during my visit:

1. Joyce is a 30 year-old African elephant

Joyce the elephant
Joyce the elephant (Toniann Antonelli/Townsquare Media)

Joyce weighs more than four tons, and stands over 10 feet tall. Yes, she's a big girl! But so gentle, with such a dynamic elephant personality!

2. Joyce knows about 30 'behaviors' that help keep her healthy

Joyce and Jason
Joyce the elephant is examined by trainer Jason Holloway. (Toniann Antonelli/Townsquare Media)

Because of her training at another Six Flags park, Joyce knows about 30 "behaviors" — not tricks, but trained actions and reactions that allow her handlers to perform a thorough examination. When she flopped on the ground with a "thud" so her handler Jason could examine her belly, I swear the earth shook.

3. She has a few unique talents

Joyce paints
Joyce the elephant paints with trainer Jason Holloway. (Toniann Antonelli/Townsquare Media)

Joyce has developed a few not-so-hidden talents as well. She uses her trunk and (very warm) elephant breath to play the harmonica! And she paints, by grabbing a paint brush and swiping a canvas back and forth.

4. That trunk is REALLY strong — and versatile

Dan Zarrow feeds Joyce the elephant
Dan Zarrow feeds Joyce the elephant (Toniann Antonelli/Townsquare Media)

Joyce's trunk is unbelievably strong and versatile. At the end, there are two finger-like appendages that allow her to grab food (or a harmonica, or a paint brush). Joyce doesn't need to look at what she's eating — she just sniffs around, grabs it, and pops it into her mouth.

5. You won't believe her favorite food

Joyce and Dan Zarrow
Dan Zarrow feeds Joyce her favorite food. (Toniann Antonelli/Townsquare Media)

Joyce's daily diet consists of about 150 pounds of food, mainly hay, fruits, and veggies. She does have a few favorite treats — especially bread and powdered donuts. Her absolute favorite? A powdered donut sandwich!

This was the first time I was able to "meet" an elephant up-close. I walked away with a tremendous appreciation for these beautiful animals, and especially for the people who care for them.

You can discover more about Joyce and the other 1,200 animals on Six Flags Great Adventure's Safari Off Road Adventure. The park is open daily starting May 25.

Show us YOUR talented pets and win Joyce's painting

The folks at Six Flags Wild Safari were kind enough to send us home with the painting that Joyce created for us during our visit. It bears the station's colors of blue and yellow and we're giving our listeners a chance to win it, along with tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. Here's how to win:

  • Use the New Jersey 101.5 app to send us photos and/or videos of your pet(s) doing tricks or showing off THEIR quirky behaviors. We will use the pics and videos in a post on our website and select winners from among the submissions.
  • All photos and videos MUST be submitted no later than 10 a.m. on Monday, May 22. The winners will be announced by Dan Zarrow on Tuesday morning, May 23 during the Bill Spadea show.
  • The grand prize will include the painting created by Joyce the elephant in the video above, along with two tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. Second- and third-place winners will each receive two tickets to Six Flags.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist and Unofficial Animal Ambassador for Townsquare Media New Jersey. When he's not painting with elephants, he's tracking the latest weather conditions and plotting the latest forecast. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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