Elephant Orphanage – Nairobi

Orphaned elephants

Elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Two Digital Gypsies Rating – 3.5 Stars

To see our YouTube video of the Elephant Orphanage, please click here.

We were in Nairobi in March of 2014 and our friends offered to take us to the elephant orphanage. The elephant orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park, which is located just 10 kms from Nairobi city center. The orphanage is only open to the public for one hour a day, between 11am – 12pm.

The official name of the orphanage is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and it is the most successful elephant rescue program in the world. According to the spokesman at the orphanage most of the orphans are a result of the poaching trade for ivory. A few orphans had mothers who were too sick to care for them and a few even fell in man-made wells and needed to be rescued.

The elephant orphans have a rapid metabolism and need regular feeding twenty-four hours a day. They must have milk for the first three years of life. As the calf’s vegetation intake increases the amount and frequency of milk can be reduced.

When a baby elephant loses its family it must be replaced by enough “keepers” to represent a family so that it grows up mentally stable. The keepers at the orphanage replace the elephant family. A different keeper will sleep with an elephant orphan every night so that it doesn’t become too attached to one keeper.

After paying admission at the orphanage we were led between the elephant sleeping quarters to a roped off area that had a small pond. The show started when two very small elephant orphans were led into the area and bottle fed by the keepers. They were so cute! Next a group of larger elephants came in single file into the area where they also were bottle fed. Finally a third group of older orphans came in and mingled with the rest of the elephants, played in the pond, and ate leaves off branches that were scattered around. This part of the show ended when the whole group was ushered out.

After the first group left, the oldest elephants at the orphanage walked into the roped off area. They seemed totally comfortable around humans and many of them walked along the rope line where you could pet them. During the whole presentation, you’re encouraged to adopt an elephant. For just $50 you can adopt an orphan, and the money goes directly to the project. You receive regular updates on your orphan via e-mail, as well as a copy of his biography, and an adoption certificate. After the show there is a place to shop for souvenirs, restrooms are available, and you can even see where the elephant orphans sleep with their keepers.