Saturday, September 13, 2008

What's Cuter Than a Baby Elephant?


Twelve baby elephants! Today Erik the Intern and I went to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The members of the trust rescue orphaned baby elephants, care for them for many years and eventually release them into the Tsavo National Park. It’s only open for one hour each day when the elephants are taken for a walk to a watering hole, and given tree branches to eat and play with, and allow the tourists to gawk and pose with them. The littlest was just two months old, with an even younger one expected to arrive tomorrow. One of the keepers explained that elephants are most frequently orphaned due to man-made reasons - poachers, snares and the newest arrival is a victim of falling down a well. Even in just a short hour, it was clear that these little guys had very distinct personalities. Some were shy and others were more outgoing, hamming it up with the tourists for photos. The keepers are rotated so that the elephants don’t become too attached to any one person, and eventually they are weaned off humans and find other elephant companions more interesting.

After the elephants, Alex the Cab Driver took us to the Giraffe Center, a short drive away. He knows his shortcuts and took us down a “road” where he had to maneuver his car between two narrow cement pillars, clearly designed to keep cars out. However, it was indeed a quicker way because noticed that about 20 minutes after we arrived, other visitors to the elephant orphanage showed up, too.

We got there at a great time when 5 giraffes were hanging out by the visitor center. A nice guide gave us a handful of Purina Giraffe Chow, and showed us how to feed them. He then demonstrated that some of the giraffes have learned how to eat the pellets out of visitor’s mouths. I wasn’t into having a giraffe’s long, purple tongue slurping a pellet from my lips, but it was lots of fun watching others do it.

As a final destination, Alex then took us by the Karen Blixen house. He didn’t recommend going inside - he said it wasn’t worth the admission price - but we parked in front and had a photo op.
So, that was my first official Nairobi animal adventure. The elephants were a great value - less than $5 bucks for a fun, informative hour. The giraffes were about $10 and that seemed a little steep for a couple of handfuls of pellets, but the kicker was Alex who wanted 4500 Shillings - about $65 - for our adventure. We negotiated a new rate, but Alex is wearing thin, and I think it’s time to use a new cab for future trips.


Meet Melida said...

How wonderful! Good to see that it's not all work and no play. I love it that the elephants are so red from the dirt, it's very pretty. And it's nice to see you so happy, though that giraffe seems a bit fresh! Giraffe chow must be really delicious...

Sara said...

Amazing! I'm so jealous! I can't believe you didn't want a giant giraffe tongue in your mouth...Can you bring me home a baby elephant? Thanks!

Monika said...

Marge, I'm following your blog with interest and amazement, and the elephant and giraffe pictures are really fantastic.
I hope your Kenya experience will continue to be all you hoped for and more.
Can't wait for your next entry!

Anonymous said...

Don't stop blogging, Marge. It is so much fun hearing from you!

Dale and Debi

Suzanne said...

Interesting to know.