Had an absolutely lovely day yesterday.
K took me across town to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where you can see the baby elephants being fed each morning. Some are victims of poaching, others were found down wells or mysteriously separated from their mothers. The orphanage rescues them from across Kenya and brings them here until they're old enough to be reintroduced into the wild.
This is my eight minute montage of elephant heaven, but there's plenty of YouTube links at the end if you want to see more (better shot) footage. The little one running to get fed at 0.33 is the newest member of the herd at only two months old. Its mother was killed by villagers, and the white powder on its bum is antiseptic for the three spear wounds it survived.
The blanket is used for the really young ones to bottle feed beneath, as their little trunks aren't strong enough to hold the bottle, so it's like resting against mum's underbelly. They are so unbelievably cute.
At around three years old, the orphanage attempts to reintroduce them into the wild. This can take several attempts, but they've never had one that didn't find a new family eventually.
You can foster an elephant on their website for $50 a year.
These are the stalls where the infants sleep alongside their carers.
Elephants are matriarchal and follow the eldest female in the herd, with the boys leaving to live their bachelor lives when they hit puberty at around fifteen. They live to about seventy, growing a new set of teeth every ten years or so. When the last set wear down they can no longer feed themselves, so die - which is a bit sad.
It's also true that elephants have incredibly good memories, and a fully grown one found its way back to the orphanage many years later and recognised its keeper. Apparently they're rather fussy about keepers, and if three elephants reject you, you're asked to re-evaluate whether working with elephants is really the job for you. One guy asked why there weren't any female carers, but apparently they find it hard to keep hold of female staff. Possibly because of the demands of living with the elephants, and the hours. All of them have quit of their own accord within six months.
After the elephants, it was on to the giraffe centre down the road.
I just love this picture. It's like the warthog is standing there going 'Yeah, and where's my food pellets?' Indignant at all these long, leggy beasts getting all the attention. Poor Pumba.
After taking our fill of animal cuteness, we headed over to The Marula Studios to do the recycling (plastics, tin and glass). It's this funky little place that does incredible things with old flip-flops, tuning them into animals of all shapes and sizes. You can read about it by following the link to their website above. The leftovers go to create the bouncy ground beneath the kids' play area. They also re-use plastic bottles as hanging baskets!
Truly superb little place, worth a visit if you're ever in the area. Lots of nice soaps, clothes and jewelry too, though it's in the very rich suburb of Karen (of Karen Blixen fame), so things are a little pricey. Well, pricier than the average cost of Nairobi - which is fairly extortionate. I'm still coming to terms with the cost of living here.
After all of this, we retired to The Purdy Arms to meet up with Tracey and Celia, people I'd met through LinkedIn a while back, already friends of K's.
It turned into one of the best evenings I've had in a long time. One of those long sunny afternoons where the humour is silly and the company delightful. I laughed so hard I hurt at one point. They are top Aussie lasses and we got on like a house on fire. Hopefully meeting up again next weekend for more of the same.
Let's take a moment for food porn...
That first one is home made lemonade, which was delicious. The second is K's pavlova with fruit salad - very dressy. But the last one is the entire reason we went to Purdy's in the first place: their signature dish, chocolate and marshmallow samosas.
Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt.
I practically inhaled them.
Nothing has resulted in such genius since the deep friend Mars Bar.