March 1, 2013

It started with a goat

I think it started with a goat, though I wouldn't bet on that.  It could have started with a cow or a flock of chickens.  I know it wasn't the honey bees (those came later).

For the past 5+ years, all major gifting holidays (Christmas, birthdays) have been accompanied by a variety of exotic and barnyard animals, courtesy of my brother.  He prints out clip-art animals, accompanied by explanations like "chicks" or "bzzzzzz" and expects people to figure out what it means.


And while these laconic clues do suggest that what very-much-appears to be a cow is indeed a cow, they're less helpful at answering why there's a cow.  The answer is that he's rightfully decided that we all have enough stuff in our lives and has taken to giving Oxfam donations.

For my birthday this year, I became a foster parent to a baby elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  The Trust rescues orphaned elephants when their parents are poached for ivory and raises them until about three years of age, at which point they are rehabilitated and released back into the wild at Tsavo National Park.

 As far as foster parenting goes, I assume this is one of the easiest gigs you can get.  The the elephants already get all of their TLC from trained staff who sleep with them in the same room and wake up to feed them two bottles of baby formula every 3 hours.

The orphanage is open to the public for one hour every day from 11am-12pm to watch one of these feedings and see the babies roll around in a mud-hole.


Can't get up!

I highly recommend it as a day-trip activity (coupled with the giraffe center) for those visiting Nairobi.  However, if you're a foster-parent, you also get to return at 5pm for a semi-private evening feeding and elephant bedtime.  

Nom nom

Proud parent

They're also served a hearty branch of leafy greens, although it seems as though most of them (like many children) preferred their friend's snack.  

I want that one...


Reeeeeaaachhhhhh GIVE IT TO ME

Each elephant has their own room and a trainer who feeds them, tucks them in, and sleeps in a cot beside them.  

Getting wrapped up in blankets

And off to dreamland

A tip for anyone considering elephant-fostering: They are very strict about who gets to come to the private feeding- only those people listed on the adoption certificate, no exceptions.  So it's best to do a co-adoption with multiple names so that friends or family can accompany you.  

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