The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Nairobi, is a wonderfully insightful place. Whilst visiting I had lots of fun, however I also experienced great sadness. I will explain.
When entering the orphanage you are greeted by the many warm, welcoming faces of the staff, they are happy to help and are clearly very enthusiastic about what they do. The grounds of the orphanage seem quite large and they house the sleeping areas for the young elephants. The sleeping areas are like traditional horse stables and are made all warm and cosy with hay etc. When the elephants are very young, sometimes the staff will even sleep in there with them! How adorable!
The staff become very close with the elephants and act as their ‘human family’, this is clearly seen through the way they act towards each other. It is really lovely to see, and to watch how happy the babies are, despite the trauma they have been through. Elephants are said to be the closest to humans in terms of emotions, so it is really important that they get this love and care offered to them at the orphanage, and it is certainly evident that they do!
The milk bottles are set out in front of the tourists (tourists are invited into the orphanage for only 1 hour per day), and the elephants charge excitedly towards them. The younger elephants need to be fed by the keepers, the older ones however grab their bottles and down the milk themselves quicker than you can blink an eye! It is incredibly cute to watch!