Monday, September 12, 2011

The baby elephant orphanage

I only had one thing that I really wanted to do in Nairobi this time around, and that was a visit to the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage. I'd planned to go around my birthday, but instead, extended the anticipation by waiting for a friend to arrive. Our antipodean crew of 4 traipsed out to Nairobi National Park and the surprising lack of traffic on a Sunday morning got us to the orphanage about 40 minutes early. There were already quite a lot of people there, but we hung out at the entrance and when it was time to go in we were very close to the front. Friends had advised us where to stand (in front of milk bottles or a water barrel) so we had a prime position.
We stood around a roped off area, anticipation building as to where the little ellies would come from, and then seemingly from out of nowhere, they came trotting into the 'arena', ready for a feed...

and boy did they suck down those gigantic milk bottles quickly!

It wasn't just milk they enjoyed, big slurps were taken from the water barrel in front of us.

I'll just have to say that I find elephant bums (and fronts) adorable.

One of the keepers gave a lengthy speech about the work of the David Sheldrick Trust, and introduced each of the elephants to us.

With the keepers spending 24 hours a day with their charges, the bonds between them are really evident.

The elephants were brought out in two batches of 6, the first group (above) were slightly smaller so as the second older group came out, we could see that they were quite hungry indeed!

A couple of the older ones gave themselves dirt baths, but I was a bit disappointed that none of them seemed to want a mud bath.

It was a wonderful experience, we even got to touch a couple of the little ones (their hair is quite wiry and they were very dirty!) and I can't recommend it highly enough.

I managed to take an awful lot of photos of basically the same thing over and over, so if you're interested, the photos are here.

We rounded off the afternoon with a lovely lunch at Talisman restaurant in Karen, which not only had a lovely atmosphere but the food was delicious as well. Perhaps next week I'll head back out there to the Giraffe Sanctuary and get pashed by a giraffe!

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