Day 15 – But It’s My Elephant

February 3, 2012
Nairobi
Wildebeest Camp

A little over a year ago I was watching Oprah (I know, I know) and she was doing a special on Africa and focused on the David Sheldrick Foundation, an organization started to protect and care for orphaned baby elephants. I adopted a little guy named ChemiChemi and I got regular updates, pictures and videos until he got old enough to move to the national park with one of the herds. Luckily the home base for the foundation is located in Nairobi and they do public viewings every day for 1 hour. This morning I hired a taxi from Wildebeest Camp and set out, it didn’t take long to get there and it cost roughly $5 to get in (taxi cost me $50).

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There are currently 16 elephants at the foundation, ranging from a few months to a couple years old and they are all adorable. They brought 7 of the younger ones first, they drank milk from bottles and played in the mud.

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The trainers talked at length about the foundation, introduced each elephant and explained how they had been found. Most of the elephants were victims of poaching, their mothers killed for their ivory. But some had been victims of humans themselves, one little guy had been put in a well and left there. I will freely admit that I teared up when I saw how happy they were, playing in the dirt and rolling all over each other.

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The trainers explained that each new addition is warmly welcomed and accepted into the group because the elephants remember their first day and want to show each new elephant that everything is ok and that they are safe now. It was lovely to hear the trainers talk about the elephants and see them interact. You can see the love and respect going both ways. After the little guys were done playing they brought out the older ones who were just as sweet and playful.

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David Sheldrick had been such a success I decided to go to the Giraffe Sanctuary as well. It wasn’t that far (maybe 20 minutes) and the entrance fee was roughly $7. I was a little disappointed in the Sanctuary, it was very small with only a few giraffes and tons of people. They have a platform to stand on where the giraffes reach and you can feed them. There was one giraffe feeding while I was there and about 40 people with pellets in their hands. One little girl just kept throwing pellets at the poor giraffe while her parents stood by and watched. Eventually a staff member came over and told her to quit it, then stood close and kept an eye on her.

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On the way back to camp the taxi I was in started making scary noises and shuddering with each gear change. The driver kept trying to keep it going but after stalling and stalling he eventually gave up, pulled over and called someone to come get me. The rest of the day was a little less eventful.

Breakfast: toast with pb&j, scrambled eggs, tea
Lunch: burger and chips, coke
Dinner: NA

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