Today the weather is good not like the usual chilly July mornings that we are used to here. July is our sort of ‘winter’ here in Nairobi but today things are a little bit different. It’s cloudy but warm, perfect weather for an outdoor activity. My plans will eventually carry on as earlier set.
I have spared my afternoon for a visit to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage which is located approximately 7kms from the city center. After my morning activities, I prepare for an adventurous afternoon. I have heard people relating stories about this place on several occasions, it’s almost a taboo to grow up in Nairobi and fail to visit this orphanage. Almost every school going child in Nairobi will admit that they have been to this place at least once courtesy of school trips arranged by their teachers. Families create time once in a while in order to bring their loved ones to this place. Today, my friend and I will be visiting the orphanage.
The orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park. The main purpose for setting it up was to provide a home and a rehabilitation center for wild animals that have been orphaned or injured throughout Kenya. Animals that are brought here are put on an appropriate feeding and rehabilitation program after undergoing a medical examination. All this is done by the Kenya Wildlife Service. They have trained and specialized staff to handle wildlife.
So what exactly do people come here for? Let’s find out.
1. Lesser White Spot-nosed Monkey
Anyone who has ever seen monkeys will bear me witness that they are very entertaining and you can spend hours watching them without getting bored. This lesser white-spot nosed monkey did not disappoint either. It was really playful and kept jumping all over the place. Some interesting facts about this type of monkey are that it gives birth to a single offspring and females are the ones who solicit for copulation and they move through the forest in a quadrupedal manner.
Apart from the lesser spot nosed monkey, there are also other types of monkeys and baboons at the orphanage.
Sarah Tumaini, a lioness, is the occupant of the second enclosure. This Nairobi lioness is famous!
Why? On 28th June 2014, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon came to the orphanage to meet her. One of the care takers at the
orphanage, Patrick, let her play with the Secretary General and she was very good at it. She didn’t let him down. Sarah has been hand rared by Patrick, Joseph and her special friend Laurence having been brought to the orphanage when she was only a couple of days old. She likes playing with toys and ball games. She is gentle with her friends.
With reference to the information that is provided at the orphanage, the United Nations secretary general adopted Sarah Tumaini as a sign of his support for efforts against poaching and animal trafficking. He said that he did this in the hope that all human beings and animals can live in peace and harmony. He also said that his action meant to show solidarity with Kenyans in conservation and also a token of concern for the Kenya wildlife service and park rangers.
As you walk through the orphanage there are several other lions in separate enclosures.
Meet Robert (Cheetah) who was an orphan in Meru. He came to the orphanage when he was two months old on September 11th 2009. Just like Sarah Tumaini, he too has an amazing character. When there is someone cleaning his enclosure, he will walk around the person to see if he has a mobile phone in his pocket. If he can he will grab it and toss it into his drinking trough. He loves playing with mobile phones.
Apart from Robert, there are also other cheetahs in separate enclosures.
4. Silver backed jackal
This is Jack, the silver backed jackal at the orphanage. This is his story. A pair of silver backed jackals from the wild decided to make a home in Mount Kenya Safari ranch. They stole food from the other animals and made themselves a nuisance. Don Hunt, co-founder of Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and game ranch, chased them away several times but they kept coming back. On 4th March 2001, he trapped them and gave them as a present to Nairobi animal orphanage, the pair enjoyed life at the orphanage and had offsprings. Many of their offsprings were released to Ol Jogi ranch and some went in Nairobi National Park, Jack is the last remaining of their babies and at 12 years old he is blind. Even though you may think he is sleeping when you see him resting in his house or on the platform, he is alert to everything going on and is watching for his friends who bring him specially prepared pieces of beef steak for his dinner.
Other subspecies of Jackals include the Golden Jackal, side striped jackal and Ethiopian wolf. Jackals are treated like vermin in pastoral farm-lands. They have a screaming yell followed by 3-4yaps.
Other animals that are found in this orphanage are the Serval cat, Sokoke cat, the Stripped Hyena, the Nile crocodile, Wild dog, Leopard and the White Tailed Mongoose.
Caged birds at the orphanage are the Helmeted Guinea Fowl and the African Crowned Crane.
After a walk around the orphanage , there is a resting area where you can enjoy the fresh air from the numerous trees around and take in the breathtaking view of nature. If you have a few hours to spare in Nairobi, Nairobi Animal Orphanage is one of the few places where you can interact with wild animals at a close range, learn their behavior and how they ended up in the orphanage.
Non residents: Adults US$25, Children/Students Us$15
Kenya residents: Adults Kshs. 350, Children/Students Kshs. 200, WCK (Wildlife Clubs of Kenya) Members Kshs . 60
East African Citizens: Adults Kshs. 250, Children/Students Kshs. 150, WCK (Wildlife Clubs of Kenya) Members Kshs. 60
NOTE: Children : Age between 3-17 years. Student rate requires two weeks notice for authorization.