This weekend, two other short term missionaries staying at Mayfield and I were able to head out and enjoy two different outings. On Saturday we went to the elephant orphanage and on Sunday after church we went to the Nairobi giraffe centre. ( I’ve posted photos of both here.)
The elephant orphanage is a place where they bring very young elephants that have been found either orphaned or abandoned in the wild. It’s part of the Nairobi Game Park, and the goal is to raise the elephants in such a way that they are able to be released back into the wild. They only have contact with the public for one hour a day for feeding, and the rest of the day they wander the game park with their keepers.
I was amazed to learn how human-like elephants are in terms of their social interaction. They actually form really strong bonds with their keepers, who sleep in their stall with them so that the elephants can have contact at all times. The keepers have to rotates, so that the elephants don’t get too attached to any one person, which would make it harder for them to eventually head out into the wild. Also, there is one elephant at the orphanage whose mother was killed by poachers when she was about a year old. Park rangers found her nearby, and still to this day, she has quite a mistrust of humans because of what she saw humans had done to her mother. The poor thing is psychologically scarred! (I recently read an article on elephant poaching, and it’s so, so, SO terrible. My goodness…)
But OH! These babies were ADORABLE! They are still bottle fed, and the really young ones are just learning to use their trunks, which made for some pretty cute elephant watching as they attempted to take up water and get it into their mouths!
After both groups of elephants had come out and fed, they brought out a baby rhino (they also have a few rhinos in the centre) who was only three weeks old! He had stage fright and wouldn’t come close to the people, no matter how much the keepers tried to push him along. Eventually they just scooped him up – a RHINO! – and carried him off!
On an excellent tip from a friend, we booked a driver and headed out on Sunday after church to the Giraffe Centre, too. It’s sort of a conservation/education centre with about 10 giraffes. There is one side where they come for the day and the public can come to feed them and the other side where they go in the evening to roam free.
On the public side, there’s a platform you can climb up and feed the giraffes. Only “Daisy” was around, enjoying the attention and food from all the visitors. The keepers are really good at taking pictures for the visitors, giving you all kinds of ways to pose with the giraffes. MAN, those animals are big! But they’re really gentle, and super soft! (Well, they’re gentle unless you being teasing them or they think you have food but you don’t – then they head butt you! Thankfully I avoided any giraffe head butts!) They might be the favourite animal I’ve seen so far (though I don’t know, the monkeys we saw on the side of the road were pretty cool… as were the elephants… and the warthogs running around under the giraffes… hmmm… ok, it’s so hard to pick! hehehe!)
There’s one way in particular that you can feed the giraffes that provides from some pretty great pictures… you’ll just have to go check out the set to see! :)