Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nairobi cont' elephants and Rothschild giraffes

After our rousing football game, we piled into the car (sans Kevin, who was, sadly, working) and headed to the outskirts of Nairobi for the official Bender guest day out in Nairobi tour. First to a baby elephant orphanage run by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We got there in time to catch the end of bath and play time. A few of the dozen or so elephants currently in residence were still wallowing in the mud and kicking around a soccer ball.

We were close to the elephants, but there were high tech safety measures in place to ensure nothing bad would happen to Jack and Harper....

Each of the orphans is assigned a team of keepers who spend 24 hours a day with them. Orphaned elephants can basically die of a broken heart, so the Trust works to create a 'family' environment to replace the families they lose. The keepers also do everything else an orphan's family would have done: They hold umbrellas over the elephants to protect their sensitive skin from the sun; they put raincoats on them to protect them from the rain; and, they strap blankets to them at night to keep them warm.

But perhaps the greatest sacrifice the keepers make for the baby elephants is to sleep in the stalls with them. Originally one keeper was assigned to each elephant. Now, there are three (I think) which allows the keepers to have, you know, a life outside of 24 hour a day elephant care.

You can adopt an elephant by donating to the orphanage. If you do so, you also gain the right to visit the center during non-public hours when the keepers are putting the elephants to bed. Luckily, the Benders have such a right. And now, so do we.

And if you are really good, they let you in the stalls.

When the elephants are old enough, they are brought to Tsavo National Park in Southeastern Kenya and reintroduced to the wild. I'm told that the now matriarch of a herd there is a former boarder at the orphanage, and still remembers Daphne Sheldrick, who runs the place.

Next on our stop of up close and personal animals in Nairobi was the Langata Giraffe Center, home to a herd of endangered Rothschild Giraffes.

Jack was, once again, enamored by the animals, and showed little fear of the huge Giraffes (with their huge tongues).

While it looks like this dude (chick?) was angling in for the photo, in actuality it was head-butting me because I had stopped feeding pellets to it in order to get a photo with my boy.

The Giraffe Center shares the giraffes with Giraffe Manor, a hotel where the guests share their space with the giraffes. Lots of sharing there.


At 12:22 PM, Blogger One Day Nairobi Tour said...

Katherine and Phil, Its people like you that make me proud to be Kenyan. Great photos and the way you express your experience on your day out in the David sheldricks and the giraffe center is just sublime. In a big way you have marketed these places a great deal


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