Tag Archives: Nairobi

This is for the Instagrammers and Wannabe Obamas: Part 1, Elephant Orphanage

Today I arrived in Nairobi and visited the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Nairobi National Museum! Part 1 will focus on the Elephant Orphanage, and Part 2 (if I get it together) will focus on the museum.

Sheldrick Elephant OrphanageThis wildlife trust raises orphaned and abandoned baby elephants and rhinos brought from all over Kenya. Once a baby has been reported orphaned, it is airlifted into the nursery section of Nairobi National Park, where the caretakers can monitor it constantly.

They are open to the public for a single feeding (11-12 pm) everyday. The final group was a mix of tourists and very young local school children (definitely all under 10) on field trips.

Readying the milk

Here are the caretakers and their wheelbarrow full of giant baby bottles!

Here they come!

Here are the first babies!

Let's go!

These are the youngest two, aged at about 10 months.




It took Dr. Sheldrick 28 years to perfect the baby formula these elephants are being given.

close up noms

The babies can’t be fed cow milk because the fat content is way too high – elephants can’t process foods that high in fat.

The milk these elephants are fed is actually nearly human baby formula, but with extra fat emulsifiers added in.

More hungry mouths coming around!

After everyone has been fed, one of the nursery attendants talks to the crowd about the reasons for these elephants’ predicaments (overwhelmingly due to human impact), as well as introduces all the different elephants. This first group is made up of 11 younger and smaller babies, aged between 10 months and 2.5 years. There are currently 25 in total, with 6 being too young or shy to come to such a public feeding.

While the attendant speaks, the babies play!

At a certain point the younger group just leaves and the larger babies come out!DSC_0068

There are 8 elephants in this group, and they are aged 2-4 years. They are noticeably larger.

The baby elephants are fed a total of 24 L of milk a day with a feeding every three hours. In the wild, baby elephants nurse for a minimum of two years. At the nursery, they are formula fed up until 4 years. The 3-4 year olds are in the process of being weaned.

Once they turn four, the elephants are moved to a different location to improve their elephant social skills. The keepers actually move out with them (rotating keepers switch back and forth between nursery and park) and help them integrate into a wild herd. This process of rewilding is variable according to each elephant, but by they are generally fairly well integrated by the time they turn 8.


Bye babies! Check out more about the Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project, and perhaps adopt a baby? The project runs entirely on donations, so stay tuned for updates on Alec’s new baby elephant, Tusuja!

This is for the Instagrammers and Wannabe Obamas: Part 2, Nairobi National Museum

This is part 2 of my first day in Nairobi! After seeing all the baby elephants, I went to the Nairobi National Museum for a few hours. The bottom floor is a great overview of both the natural history of Kenya and an overview of mammalian evolution, and the top floor focuses on the history of Kenya (precolonial to present) and the stages of human life, as told through contemporary Kenyan tribal artifacts. Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the museum.

Special mention needs to be given to the “Girls Design the World” exhibition, which was created through a partnership between the National Museums of Kenya and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota. With the guidance of artists, designers, and environmentalists, female high school students from the two cities looked at local environmental challenges and used design thinking to create prototype solutions for their problems. These solutions were as simple as the separation of waste types to the manufacturing of oil from non-biodegradable waste.

The exhibition hall
The exhibition hall

The best part of the museum was actually the number of high schoolers present. While I was walking around, a number of girls would just randomly say hello to me. Eventually, a group of 5 girls stopped me (To practice their English? To play with my hair? Unclear.) and I got to tell them about the research I was doing in Kenya as well as the steps to graduate school in the US. Very strange, but I had a good time.