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Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, 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 in Nairobi, which has been the leading conservation organization in East Africa.

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 Wildlife 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!

Where is the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

The Trust’s main base and location of their elephant orphanage -often referred to as the Nairobi Nursery- is in Nairobi National Park just 17 km south of the city of Nairobi, Kenya. It is located off Magadi Road. 

How to Get to the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

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 $7). 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 11:00 am to 12:00 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.

If you’re an active adopter (Yes, you can adopt them!) you can also visit by appointment at 5:00 pm when the elephants return to the stockades for the night. 

The evening visit is strictly for adopters only, which is one of the benefits of sponsoring these cute elephants!

In recent years, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust also expanded to rescue and shelter rhinos (who are unfortunately endangered) and giraffes.

The Elephants Having Fun at the Orphanage

So, here I leave you with a few pictures taken at the orphanage:

David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
Initially, we were introduced to the youngest nursery elephants. These ranged from 2 months old to 1 year old. Too cute, I must say! Some of these elephants are coated with blankets to protect them from the cold morning weather, and the ones that are feeling hot, they already know what to do – splash themselves with mud found at the playing area.
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
They love to play with football/soccer balls.
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
Covering themselves with mud to stay cool under the harsh sun.
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
Nothing like a playful mid-day bath!
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
Look! I’m clean!!
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
You know how dogs love to scratch the grass after they’ve taken a bath? Well, apparently elephants do something similar!
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
While they are too young to feed on trees, their natural instinct doesn’t fail and tells them that this is something they will eat in the future. For now, they just play with the twigs.
David Shieldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
Like any kid, they love to tackle each other and have fun.

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.

Adopting an Elephant

Yes, 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. You can adopt them from one year up to ten years.

I even adopted my own elephant!! Her name is Shukuru. She is one of the youngest elephants that are still in the nursery stage.

(Update: Shukuru is now an adult and has been released to a reintegration unit. Sadly, after 12 years, Shukuru passed away in 2021. 🙁 ) 

Adoption certificate from David Shieldrick Elephant orphanage
A snapshot of my adoption certificate for Shukuru. Isn’t she a cute baby!

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, they come back to the orphanage years later 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.

Additionally, you can now also adopt rhinos and giraffes through the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Lastly, should you be interested in visiting the orphanage and not worry about planning your transportation, here are a few tour options that will take you to the orphanage, and in some cases, even to the Giraffe Center and the Nairobi National Park, in one day!

How to Visit the Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi 1
Adventure Awaits


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  1. Those are the sweetest photos and what a wonderful thing you are doing by adopting one!

  2. It sucks that all that poaching goes on. Glad to see organizations out there taking care of the elephants. They are pretty playful and fun and it gives people a chance to see that these elephants are worth saving. Thanks for sharing the photos – so glad I am not in charge of giving elephants a bath! 🙂

    1. Believe it or not, while on the safaris and at the orphanage, every time they talked about the poaching it made me mad. I really don’t see how can they still do that, or how heartless they must be to do it. But, thankfully places like these are giving these little elephants the chance to survive and continue growing the elephant population.

      Ha, oh no, those elephants end up being a mess everyday… poor guy who has to shower them! 🙂

    2. I have always wanted to interact with a baby elephant. My birthday in World Elephant Day, August 12th, so I feel very close to elephants and in awe of these magnificent animals. I will definitely adopt a baby and then would love to visit my baby. When is the best time to do this?

      1. Gayl – They are open year-round, so visiting the elephant orphanage can be done at any time. You can adopt online and then visit the orphanage, or vice versa if you’d like to get to see them first.

  3. They look very clean! And especially very adorable. How amazing that they return to the orphanage to “say thanks”.

    1. haha… adorable, yes… clean?! hmmm… well, that might be their clean standard! lol Yes, it is amazing that they remember and return to thank them. 🙂

  4. Ahh look at those babies! The pictures are phenomenal and I love the red dirt flying everywhere.

    1. Hi Jayne –

      I’m afraid I can’t remember, but it may be. I would recommend to contact them and ask them directly to confirm this. Sorry I couldn’t help much there.

  5. Whouuuuu! its Lovely to Read and see the most beautiful Creatures on the World…! Amazing.Keep up guys taking good care of the Poor Elephants for what you do actually is not in Vain.
    Am planning to Visit the Orphanage Soon and so plz I need full direction information from Nairobi town..! God Bless You.

  6. I adopted Shukuru as well on 2009. On my bucket list is a visit to the orphanage. This organization deserves all the praise possible for their good work. Hopefully these elephants and other animals will have a chance to thrive.

  7. That sounds like so much fun! I will be visiting Nairobi in September and I really hope to go there. But I can’t believe you actually do not have to pay that much.
    The pictures are adorable btw!

  8. They are so cute and clumsy at the same time. Are there any other orphanages besides the David Sheldrick Wildlife in the area to see elephants?
    I was surprised when you mentioned they only show the elephants for one hour.

    Thanks for the pictures, so cute!!

    1. I wish I could recommend others, but I really don’t know any. :/
      Yes, they only show the elephants for one hour to not disturb their daily routine too much.

  9. If I can’t be there for feeding time can I still visit my adopted elephant after feeding time? How do I contact the orphanage to let them know I’m coming to visit my elephant?

    1. You probably no already but you can visit if you adopt between 5:00 and 6:00pm. You must arrange this first with their staff.

  10. Lovely. I now want a baby elephant for myself too.
    I am so touched by this. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Hi N, We are on our way to Nairobi just this minute to the elephant orphanage, flying from JFK to London then Africa. I know this will be the highlight of our trip and we are planning to adopt one of these sweet precious babies. The poaching however enrages me. It makes me want to cry that this inhumanity exists to defenseless animals!

    1. It’s unfortunate that poaching still happens. Thankfully these orphanages do help these unfortunate elephants so they can have a healthy life.

    1. Sedora, you must contact the foundation and ask them about their current operating hours. This is a blog.

  12. Do you allow visitors “inside” the area where the elephants are and if so, are we allowed to touch / pet them?

    1. Hi, you should contact the foundation to get an accurate answer, but as far as I know, you cannot go inside the area where the elephants are, and if conditions are still the same as when I visited, you cannot pet them.

  13. Hi,I want to visit the elephant orphanage on Friday this week,how do I go about it? I have a four years old girl.did she also have to pay for entry fee! And how much is the entry fee for adults? How is the mode of payment? Am I supposed to book for appointment or I just come and pay the entry at the reception with booking sn appointment?

    1. Hi, You should contact the foundation directly to ask them these questions. As far as I know you can pay your entry once there.