Milk, Mud, & Everything Elephanty at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Imagine standing at a clearing and then hearing happy sounds and feeling the ground shake as a bunch of baby elephants appear from behind acacia woodlands. You become elated at this sight, but the baby elephants are most likely happier than you because it’s feeding time!
You stand inches from a playful baby elephant, feeling its coarse skin brush against your hand as it eagerly gulps down a bottle of milk. That’s exactly the kind of unforgettable experience we had at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Kenya.
This enchanting sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates, and reintegrates orphaned elephants. It provides a safe haven for these gentle giants to grow and play while offering you a chance to witness their incredible journey firsthand.
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Elephant Orphanage in Kenya - Photos by Our Clients
The Daphne and David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage: A Sanctuary for Baby Elephants
Decades ago, when David Sheldrick worked as the founding warden at Tsavo National Park, he came into proximity to all kinds of animals. One of the main problems he encountered was poaching. Poachers ruthlessly slaughtered elephants and rhinos for their tusks and left behind orphaned baby elephants and rhinos.
Along with his wife, Daphne, they took care of orphaned baby elephants from their home in Tsavo. In the process learned much about the behavior and needs (physical and psychological) of these gentle giants.
Following the death of her husband Dame Daphne Sheldrick founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 1977 in honor of her husband. Today, the Elephant Orphanage has become an integral part of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), which works tirelessly to protect and preserve Kenya’s wildlife. The elephant sanctuary runs a successful rehabilitation program that rescues and cares for elephant orphans before reintroducing them back to the wild, primarily in Tsavo National Park.
The elephant sanctuary allows visitors to witness heartwarming interactions between the young elephants and their dedicated keepers during daily feeding and mud bath sessions. As you watch these adorable creatures frolic and play, it’s impossible not to feel a deep sense of awe and admiration for the incredible work being done by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
The Importance of the Orphanage
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage plays a vital role in elephant and rhino conservation, tackling the difficulties faced by orphaned elephants due to poaching and habitat loss. Recognized as the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world, the orphanage is a testament to the unwavering dedication of its team.
The orphanage’s significant impact on the preservation of these majestic animals is evident in its provision of a loving family structure and access to food and water. More importantly protection from poachers through anti-poaching initiatives. Notably, the orphanage’s incredible efforts extend beyond saving countless orphaned baby elephants’ lives. They have also contributed to raising societal awareness of poaching’s harm and protecting these gentle giants for future generations.
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is filled with inspiring success stories of orphaned baby elephants rescued and rehabilitated. Take Lissa, for example, a once injured orphan who is now a healthy and successful elephant mother in the wild lands of Tsavo National Park. Or Melia, a feisty abandoned baby elephant rescued and still cared for at the sanctuary.
These stories are a testament to the dedication and care provided to the youngest elephants at the orphanage so they can become the majestic African elephants that they are meant to be.
Sadly, not every story has a happy ending. Doldol, a tiny premature calf abandoned by its mother soon after was rescued, taken in and cared for. Everyone fell in love with the baby elephant who fought hard to survive and always had a glint of mischief in her eyes. Just under two years following her rescue Doldol passed away leaving all who knew and loved her heartbroken.
Nevertheless, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its team remain committed to furthering the impact the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is having on the conservation of elephants in Kenya.
Planning Your Visit to the Orphanage
A visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is not only an unforgettable experience but also a fantastic way to support the amazing work of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. To plan your visit, start by booking in advance through their Nairobi office or website. The entrance fee is Kshs 1,500 or USD 15 for those over 12 years old, and Kshs 500 or USD 5 for those under 12.
When choosing the best time to visit, consider the following:
- The orphanage’s set visiting times last for only one hour starting at 11:00 AM
- Weekends are usually busier, so have your preferred dates handy and book online as soon as it is released (approximately three months in advance) is a good idea
- Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes that can handle dust and mud. In other words, leave your white clothes at home!
Getting to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is easy, as it’s located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It takes approximately 22 minutes to reach the orphanage.
Best Time to Visit
As mentioned before, the orphanage opens its doors to visitors at 11:00 AM, which is the optimal time for a visit. To make the most of your visit, try to arrive by 10:30 AM, as this will give you ample time to settle in and find a good spot to witness the elephants’ midday feed and mud bath.
It’s recommended to secure your preferred date at the earliest opportunity, particularly for weekend visits, as slots can quickly fill up.
Experiencing the Orphanage: Activities and Encounters
On your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to witness a variety of activities and encounters that showcase the incredible bond between the elephants and their keepers. From the heartwarming feeding sessions to the playful mud baths, each activity offers a unique insight into the daily lives of the young elephants. And remarkable rescue stories of these majestic creatures.
You’ll be encouraged to gently touch them as they walk past you, making for unforgettable interactions with these amazing animals during your visit.
Elephant Feeding Sessions
Elephant feeding sessions are a major highlight at the elephant sanctuary. Feeding occurs daily at 11:00 AM, where you can watch baby elephants eagerly rush to their keepers for their milk bottles. Standing in a relatively central part of the viewing area offers you the best opportunity to witness this delightful scene unfold.
The elephants are provided with a fortified formula developed by Daphne Sheldrick herself, ensuring they receive the essential nutrients needed for their growth and development. As you observe the elephants enjoying their meal, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of wonder and admiration for the incredible care they receive at the orphanage.
Mud Bath Time
After their feeding sessions, the elephants head to the mud pool area, where they can roll, play, and socialize with one another. Mud bath time is a unique opportunity to observe the elephants’ joyous interactions and charming antics, as they splash and frolic together.
It’s a delightful sight that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and create lasting memories of your visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.
Meet the Elephant Keepers
A visit to the orphanage isn’t complete without meeting the passionate and dedicated elephant keepers who care for these gentle giants around the clock. Each keeper is assigned to a specific elephant, ensuring the animals receive personalized care and companionship. The elephant keepers’ daily routines and responsibilities include providing nutritious meals, taking the elephants out for stimulating walks, and offering them plenty of love and attention.
During your visit, you’ll have the chance to:
- Meet these incredible individuals
- Learn more about their tireless efforts to provide the best possible care for the orphaned elephants
- Witness the special bond between the keepers and their charges
This is a truly heartwarming experience that will leave a lasting impression on you.
Supporting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: Adoption and Donations
If your visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage leaves you feeling inspired to support their incredible work, there are several ways you can contribute. You can do this by adopting elephant orphans, making donations, purchasing items from the gift shop, or contributing to specific projects.
Your generosity will help ensure success in its mission to protect and preserve Kenya’s wildlife. Your support will make a lasting impact on the lives of these amazing animals and the dedicated team who care for them.
Adopting an Elephant
Adopting an elephant at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is a wonderful way to provide financial support for the sanctuary while also establishing a more personal connection with the animals.
Adopting an elephant is straightforward. Here’s how:
- Visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website.
- Select an orphaned elephant.
- Commit to an adoption period ranging from a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 10 years.
- The adoption fee is only $50 per year, making it an affordable and meaningful way to support the orphanage and its mission.
When you adopt an elephant, you’ll be providing life, hope, and a safe haven to an animal in need. As a special gift, you’ll receive a personalized adoption certificate from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Other Ways to Donate
If you’re looking for other ways to support the Orphanage, consider purchasing items from the gift shop, such as t-shirts, mugs, and other souvenirs. You can contribute to specific projects, like the Elephant Milk Fund or the Elephant Protection Fund. These contributions will help the Wildlife Trust provide the best possible care for the elephants.
Combining Your Visit with Other Nairobi Attractions
Although the Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary is a must-see attraction, Nairobi is a treasure trove of other incredible experiences worth exploring during your visit.
From the breathtaking landscapes of Nairobi National Park to the Giraffe Centre, there’s no shortage of unforgettable activities to enjoy in this vibrant city. To access these destinations you’ll need an entrance ticket with entrance fees varying depending on the season.
Nairobi National Park
Just a stone’s throw from the orphanage, Nairobi National Park offers a chance to see lions, cheetahs, zebras, rhinos, and other animal species in their habitat. You can take a guided tour of the park for an even more enriching experience or rent a car and explore the park on your own. The entrance fee is $40 for adults and $20 for children.
With its incredible array of wildlife and stunning landscapes, Nairobi National Park is the perfect start or end to your Africa tour of Kenya’s national parks. From Nairobi National Park, you can head out to the remarkable Tsavo East National Park, Masai Mara, or the wild lands of Samburu Game Reserve.
Another must-visit attraction near the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is the Giraffe Center, where you can interact with the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. Here, you can feed these gentle giants from a raised platform, offering a unique and unforgettable experience.
The Giraffe Centre also focuses on educating visitors about the importance of conservation, making it a fantastic complement to your visit to the orphanage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage?
Yes, you can visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage! It’s open daily for an hour, and advance booking is required. Find out more information by visiting the Nairobi Nursery page on their website.
How Much Is the Entrance to Elephant Orphanage?
The entry fee for adults is only Kshs 1500 (US$15) while children under 12 years of age are Kshs 500 (US$5).
How Much Does It Cost To Go to David Sheldrick?
Visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is an affordable experience for everyone, as entrance fees are 1500 Kenyan Shillings (USD 15) for people over 12 and 500 Kenyan Shillings (USD 5) for those under 12. For groups of 4 or more persons, discounted rates are available, starting from USD 20 per person.
How Do I Get To Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage?
To get to Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, head to Magadi Road and follow the KWS Workshop entrance.
When Is the Best Time To Visit the Orphanage?
The best time to visit the orphanage is during their set visiting hours, which start at 11:00 AM. Keep in mind that the visit only lasts one hour.