For many years the David Sheldrick Foundation has rescued orphaned elephants, raised them and successfully reintroduced them back into the wild. It is a long process since elephants have a long period of childhood before they can take care of themselves. Elephant society is very complex and babies require all the knowledge and support they get not only from their mothers but other members of the herd. So, years of work has to go into being sure they are socialized properly in order to be introduced to other wild elephants. The youngest elephants are brought to Nairobi to a ‘nursery’. These babies still need to suckle and are fed with giant bottles as you can see below. You can also see that some of these ‘babies’ really aren’t all that small. But they are still young. When they are ready the are moved to Tsavo East. There they stay until they are ready to be released.
The orphanage is open for one hour each day to the public. The keepers bring them down into a roped off area, give them bottles and let them play. As you can see, they clearly enjoy this little outing. And so does the public! If the calves choose to interact with you, it’s okay to touch them. This was one of the best hours I spent on the entire trip! It was difficult to choose pictures and I didn’t include all of them, but as you can see, I’ve included many.
These are the younger calves who are leaving so the older calves can come down.
This group is larger calves but still young enough that they need these bottles. As you can see, they do learn to hold their own. 🙂
This a a black rhinoceros that was orphaned. They have several rhinos. There is one more, but it is blind and hides when the orphanage is open to the public. The black rhino is extremely endangered.
The keepers live with the elephant calves. They are hard wired to live in a close knit group so the keepers sleep with a calf. They rotate calves so that they don’t become too attached to any one keeper but rather learn to depend on their ‘herd’.
That’s it! This was soooo much fun!!!