When you make a trip to Nairobi, Kenya the two places you must visit especially if you are an animal lover is The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and The Giraffe Centre. This past August when we went to Kenya that is exactly what we did, we stopped by both these conservation centers where we walked away inspired and happy to do more for the wildlife of this region.
I recently did a story on our visit to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in this article I want to share with you our experience at The Giraffe Centre in the Karen neighborhood of Nairobi.
Officially operated as the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, this non-profit wildlife conservation agency is commonly known as The Giraffe Centre. The Giraffe Centre was started by Betty Melville who discovered the sad situation that the Rothschild giraffes were in due to the loss of their habitat in western Kenya. The giraffe’s habitat on an 18,000-acre soybean ranch was slowly being sub-divided to house squatters in the area. The Rothschild giraffes were down to only 130 in 1979 when Betty decided to take action to save these endangered species. Betty’s plan was to bring two young giraffes to her property in Langata, Kenya for breeding. Here she founded The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W USA) to raise funds for breeding them. She was successfully able to relocate 26 giraffes from game reserves across Kenya and has bred and re-introduced the Rothschild giraffes back into the wild.
The Center is still involved in breeding the endangered Rothschild giraffes, in addition to other conservation projects such as ecology trips, national environmental competitions, and funding of small scale environmental micro-projects. A handful of giraffes currently live at the center to provide local children and teens with up close experiences with these animals.
Today the Giraffe Center’s main objective is to provide conservation education for school children and the youth of Kenya. The center has thousands of local students visiting every year encouraging them to interact with the giraffes in order to build a sense of responsibility for long-term animal conservation. All education programs offered to local kids at the facility are free of charge.
Going to the Giraffe Centre is more of a fun trip to see giant friendly giraffes that have no fear of people. As part of the entrance fee all visitors are given food to feed these 2-storey tall giraffes that roam free at the facility. This is a fun experience 😀😀. People are allowed to walk around and feed as much grub as the giraffes will eat.
A very cool feature at the center is an elevated feeding hut, which the center has constructed to make it convenient for people to stand at the same height as the tall giraffes. The elevated hut also makes it easy for giraffes to reach in and grab their food from visitors without having to bend down.
These giraffes have long tongues which they use to slobber all over your hands as they take their food from you. The feeling on the hand is ticklish and makes everyone laugh.
True to the mission statement of this organization, when we were visiting the center we saw multiple groups of school children all touring the facility and being taught by the center’s docents to appreciate wildlife. The center offers quick 30-minute lectures for all visitors on the topic of giraffes and wildlife conservation, which are very informative, fun, and well delivered.
The center also has a teashop where one can have a snack break with tea, coffee, cake and drinks. The cafe is right next to where the giraffes hang out and is a unique way to relax and enjoy the giraffe’s friendly and low-key demeanor.
No visit to Nairobi is complete without a fun filled trip to The Giraffe Centre. This is one place where everyone leaves feeling happy and with a big smile 😄😄😄.
If you are wondering how Rothschild giraffes are different from regular giraffes, there are a few differences. Rothschild giraffes are very tall, over 20 feet! And they weigh over 2500 pounds! Their spots are different too, Rothschild giraffes have leopard like spots, and their markings stop at the bottom half of their feet. For more information on Rothschild giraffes take a look at this very informative web site on giraffes Giraffe Worlds
For more information on the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, check out their web site Giraffe Centre