So it’s not every day you adopt an elephant. But today I did just that outside of Nairobi, Kenya. That’s the big surprise location I mentioned last time and it’s from where I’m posting this blog.
This is a magnificent place and a vast and spectacular country. Despite some recent political troubles and isolated pockets of unrest, everything seems to be getting back to normal now. The saving of orphaned elephants is a heartwarming example of how caring and dedicated Kenyans are to their wildlife and country.
So this is the new baby named Kimana. He’s just about three months old and was abandoned by his mother. One day he came wandering into a Massai village looking for a little companionship. He was picked up by this magnificent agency that saves baby elephants.
It’s called the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust…a place where about a dozen or so care takers nurse baby elephants back to health and then eventually release them into the wild. It’s a lot trickier than you might think because elephants are highly social animals. If they don’t learn all their elephant stuff as babies, their new herd won’t accept them.
So, these young men feed, teach, and act as surrogates. They feed them every four hours with elephant baby formula (it took them 28 years of research to get it just right), and they even teach them how to be elephants (thirty years of elephant psychology study perfected that).
Here one of the care takers teaches a baby to wave his trunk, which is a key skill if you’re going to be a responsible member of an elephant herd some day. (They use these signals to communicate all different kinds of important elephant info.) These men are so careful with the elephants that they even sleep in the same pens with them so they don’t become lonely and frightened.
All of this takes money of course, and that’s why we adopted one of the babies…to help defray the cost. (Above, I’m snapping off a few baby pix). If all goes as planned, our young pachyderm will be back in the wild in a few years. It’s a good thing these men are so successful because my son James was wondering how we’d get this little guy back to New York. I’m sure there would be an extra charge to fit him in the overhead compartment of the plane. (More posts when I get bandwidth.)