So far one of my ultimate favourite things to do has been to go to the Giraffe Centre, run by the Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife. They are have been reintegrating the Rothschild Giraffe into Kenya’s national parks, so that the number in the wild has increased from 130 in 1979 to over 300 in 2009.
We fed the giraffes food pellets from an elevated wooden platform. I felt like a kid in a tree house with a giraffe deciding to poke their head in through the window. Can you imagine how exciting that would have been for Andrew and I back on Wyatt Street? Well if you’re thinking all laughter and giggles with a little bit of nervous intimidation – these creatures are huge! – then you are exactly right! As tall and lanky as these creatures are, I was continually boggled by how they long thin necks could support such a proportionately heavy-looking head. Covered in patterns, with huge black eyes that can’t miss you, we just kept feeding them the pellets (much like you would a horse) to keep them near so that we could marvel at their sheer unique and creative design.
Apparently this colour keeps their tongues from being sunburned while they graze all day? We also learned how to kiss the giraffes. Yes, there is a tactic. Hold a pellet between your lips just loosely enough that you can toss it into the giraffe’s mouth as it get nearer. Sometimes you’ll get a big smooch on the check from that long black tongue, but usually you can avoid it.
My First Giraffe Kiss
(just like having a dog again)
3. Make eye contact.
*For the record my mouth was completely closed. It seems the giraffe just really liked me. Perhaps I should be a giraffe whisperer. I tried to keep my eyes open but it was too weird to see a giraffe so close. Just so you know, many people were doing this, not just me. You can see it on Google. AND yes, lots of face and hand washing followed.
Like all creatures, giraffes have their personalities. The first one we met was super gentle and, we later discovered, a mother to a tiny giraffe (believe me, the use of the word tiny is applied in a context only relative to the other giraffes and trees). The other giraffe that we met, Daisy, came with a warning. She’s nice only as long as you continue to feed her, so be prepared for a little cheeky action from her.
All the guides were telling us that giraffe saliva is antibacterial. This might have something to do with the fact that they eat leaves from thorn trees. This website believes that that is also why their saliva is thick – to coat the thorns unintentionally consumed. They also mention that giraffe hearts are about 25lbs. I guess there is some heavy duty blood pumping to do; giraffes are the tallest mammals, after all.
We then headed to the Kazuri Bead and Pottery Centre. Kazuri is Swahili for small and beautiful. The factory was started as a way to provide income and marketable skills to single mothers by the lady whose husband founded Flying Doctors. Kazuri and Flying Doctors?!? What an awesome couple! From employing 2 women to over 100 women with different situations, Kazuri beads are making a name for themselves internationally. For example, in Canada, you can find them at Ten Thousand Villages, and in the UK, they can be found in Harrods.
There were also warthogs (so unfortunately ugly) and an interactive educational clubhouse! Danika and I learned all kinds of things and I discovered what I would look like if I had been a giraffe. What do you think?
I had such a fun time! Can you tell? Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any of the giraffes run, but I did see them sitting, and even then something about how they looked made me laugh. We were that the Giraffe Centre before the crowds of tourists and we stayed until we got out fill of giraffes. I will probably go again before I leave, only because it was such the perfect thing to do if you are like me, still a kid at heart. Spending all morning in laughter was a great way to start the day!