One might have thought that we had seen enough elephants during our safari considering that we saw hundreds of them, but we were actually excited to visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is dedicated to rescuing orphaned elephants and rhinos, raising them and possibly rehabilitating them, and then returning them to the wild. The baby elephants come from all of the various national parks and animal reserves where, unfortunately, poaching still sometimes occur leaving the elephants orphaned or sometimes they become orphaned for other reasons. Pretty much every baby animal is cute and adorable, but baby elephants are especially cute and precocious.
During the time of our visit, it was very important to make your reservations in advance as the orphanage is only open for a single hour with a limited number of guests able to visit. Although the orphanage did have a single baby rhinoceros at the time, they did not bring him out as it would be too overwhelming for him and they were concerned of how he might react. The baby elephants on the other hand didn’t mind the people at all and some went over to get petted and a particularly curious elephant kept leaving the roped off area to mingle amongst the people.
The young elephants certainly seemed happy as they played and wrestled with each other. The handlers, who were all men, did a wonderful job of explaining their mission, the process for getting the elephants ready for release, and even took questions at the end. Once an elephant is ready to go back into the wild, they are taken to a camp at Tsavo National Park where they are slowly introduced to other wild elephants. They come back to the camp until one day the elephant simply stays with the wild animals and they are now fully reintroduced.
Allowing visitors to the orphanage is just one way that money is raised to support the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, but anyone can go to their site and adopt and elephant as a way for them to raise money. During our safari, we enjoyed seeing so many different animals, including the elephants, and preserving all of these species is important for everyone, not just those who visit Africa. Ever since the 1950’s, there has been a concerted effort to protect the abundance of wildlife that is unique to Africa, which we benefited from during our time traveling through Tanzania and Kenya. Regardless of whether you are visiting Nairobi to go on a safari or visiting for some other reason, we’d highly recommend taking time to visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elephant Orphanage.