Nairobi is home to many wildlife projects that are open to locals and visitors alike. From the moment you arrive in the city, you are presented with many options to see Giraffe, Rhino, Lions, Elephants, and more, up close and kind of personal. Of the options, the one that called my attention the most was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, also known as the Elephant Orphanage.
It is widely known the damage that poachers have done, and keep doing, to the elephant population (as well as other animals, like rhinos). In an effort to save the baby elephants that are orphaned due to poacher’s attacks, the Sheldrick Trust takes charge of being their “adoptive mother” and taking care of them 24/7 – feeding them, making sure they are warm enough, or cold enough if it is too warm, playing with them, and giving them lots of love!
Visiting the elephant orphanage was definitely my favorite thing to do in Nairobi. The orphanage is located about 30 minutes away by taxi (which cost me around 2000 Kenyan shillings roundtrip = $23). There is a donation fee (or entrance ticket) of 500 shillings (about $5). Considering the cost of taking care of one of those babies, this entrance fee is nothing!
The only time that is possible to see the elephants is from 11 am to 12 pm (noon). This is the time when the keepers bring the elephants to a cordoned area to play, feed, and to show the public how well they are doing.
So, here I leave you with a few pictures taken at the orphanage:
While you don’t get to feed the elephants, if they get close to you, you can touch and pet them. But, just being there, watching them playing happily with each other and listening to their story, is quite a movie experience.
In addition, you can adopt them! Sure, they won’t fit in your backpack, so they stay living in the orphanage until they are mature and strong enough for their release back into the wildlife. But, your donation ($50 per year) helps keep these elephants strong and healthy.
I even adopted my own elephant!! Her name is Shukuru. It is one of the youngest elephants that are still in the nursery stage.
When you adopt, the orphanage gives you an adoption certificate and information about the elephant you adopted, and they keep you up to date with its status. Also, whenever you visit the orphanage, you can visit at any time you can schedule, so you can even see your elephant when it’s ready to go to bed!
And you know what’s the coolest thing about elephants? It is true that elephants “don’t forget”, so even after being released into the wildlife, years later they come back to the orphanage to show the keepers how well they are doing and to show them their new baby elephants! That is the cutest thing, and those are some happy elephants.