No blog posting about my visit to Nairobi would be complete if I didn't include some photos of two wonderful places to get "up close and personal" with animals. Gill took me to Giraffe Manor, where I actually got to pet and feed giraffes! I've lived in various countries in Africa for a long time, and I've seen giraffes on numerous game drives, but these giraffes were the first that I could touch. How can you be ho-hum about that? They're charming!
Dena took me to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/index.asp to see the morning baby elephant feeding. Most of the baby elephants you see there are orphans of the ivory trade-- their family members having been killed by poachers who then sell the tusks. To me it's horrifying to think about the tragedy of the many, many elephant deaths that poaching causes every year. Elephants are intelligent, caring beings who inspire in me a great deal of respect. The Sheldrick Trust is doing an amazing job in attempting to right the balance, and show that human beings can be companions to elephants, instead of their worst enemies. Their program of fostering orphaned elephants is remarkable for it's constancy, it's caring, and it's demonstration of the ability to form ties of love between our two species.
The photos here show the intimate and loving relationship between many of these orphans and their keepers. It is unbelievably touching to see the way the babies twine their trunks around the keepers' necks, follow them around, and nudge them pretty determinedly when they're ready for their second bottle of milk! To see these relationships between people and elephants gives me a sense of hope for the future.