Watching baby elephants feeding and playing at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage is something not to be missed.
The baby elephants trot along with floppy trunks and flappy ears looking as cute as can be! They chase each other, get stroked by the visitors and get up to all sorts of mischief. They suckle milk from their bottles and generally make fantastic entertainment for an hour everyday.
Found on the edge of the Nairobi National Park in Langata, the Trust was set up by Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her husband David at his death in 1977. It’s played a significant and important role in Kenya’s conservation effort. Orphaned and lost baby elephants are brought here (mainly from Tsavo) and given a special milk to help them survive. Dr Dame Daphne first discovered the unique milk formula required to raise baby elephants, the base of which is a human baby milk formula, with many important ingredients added, like coconut, vegetable oils and cereals along with important minerals. Without this, a calf under two years old would die within 24 hours of becoming orphaned.
Hand-rearing elephants is not easy as they’re complex feeders. The elephants need to be taught, using great patience how to suckle, (a baby is fed every three hours for 24 hours a day) use their trunks and ears, roll in the dust, and bathe. It’s a wonderful experience to see elephants (and sometimes rhinos and other orphaned animals) so close up frolicking about while they’re being fed and bathed.
The elephants are bottle-fed on demand, and are given shade and the odd coating of suntan cream to protect the very young orphans petal pink ears. In the wild, a calf will stand under its mother’s belly to avoid the intense African sun.
When the calves reach two years old they no longer need milk and are taken to one of two release sites in Tsavo National Park where they begin the slow reintegration process back into the wild. This takes between 8 to 10 years.
ADOPT AN ELEPHANT
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a program where visitors can adopt an elephant and have special access priviledges where they can visit their elephant by appointment in the evening. They also receive a monthly updates informing them about how their elephant is doing and what it’s been getting up to! Online adoptions are also possible through the Trust’s website for those who aren’t able to get to the orphanage in person.
THE DAVID SHELDRICK’S WILDLIFE TRUST’S ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE VISITING TIMES
The orphanage is open daily from 11am until 12midday. Booking in advance is advisable especially for larger parties
ABOUT DAPHNE SHELDRICK
Daphne Sheldrick is recognized as an international authority on the rearing of wild animals. She lived and worked with her husband David Sheldric for many years in The Tsavo National Park, which David founded, and during those years, she raised and successfully rehabilitated back to the wild, many orphaned animals including elephants black rhinos, buffaloes, zebra, warthogs and whole host of antelopes and many smaller animals such as civets, mongooses and birds.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage is within easy access to other popular tourist attractions.