Nairobi Elephant Orphanage and Ithumba are our first stops in Kenya. We sponsor two babies, Kandecha and Ngasha from the orphanage and this is the reason we plan our trip to Kenya.

The Orphanage

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust owns the nursery where they care and rehabilitate the baby orphans so they have a chance of living a life in the wild. Elephants in Kenya are orphaned mainly because of poaching, human conflict and falling down wells.

Keepers and baby elephants during milk bottle time
Keepers and baby elephants during milk bottle time

The babies need highly specialised intensive care. The keepers are surrogate mothers and spend 24 hours a day with the orphans, even sleeping with them. The young babies need feeding every 2-3 hours and it’s essential they are kept warm and have company. This all involves huge dedication, devotion and lots of money.

Baby elephant plays in the red dirt at Nairobi elephant orphanage
Ngasha playing in the red dirt.

The orphans stay here at the nursery until they are ready to transfer to the trust’s release sites at Ithumba or Voi in Tsavo National Park. This is when they are about five years old but varies for each individual. Some will need more time before they are ready for the next stage of their rehabilitation.

baby elephant rolls in the red dirt at Nairobi elephant orphanage
The best time of the day

The Elephants

Ngasha and the others love to play in the red dirt and throw it all over themselves. Now three years old, he arrived at the nursery in 2012. When only seven months old, the tiny baby caused a commotion when found disorientated and frightened while wandering a town. Thankfully the townspeople reported him and he was saved by the trust.

playful baby elephant at Nairobi elephant orphanage
It’s playtime!

Kandecha our other sponsored elephant is now five years old and has left the nursery to begin the next stage of his rehabilitation with other orphans of similar size at Ithumba.

baby elephant rushes for milk bottle time
Wait for me! It’s milk bottle time.

Nairobi Elephant Orphanage is open at 11 am to the public for an hour. The babies drink giant bottles of milk, play in the dirt and interact with their keepers and each other. Exuberance and excitement fill the air and the babies have so much fun. We stand behind the ropes but sometimes babies come close and feel us with their little trunks!

baby elephant orphans at Nairobi elephant orphanage
Best friends

Sponsor a baby elephant at Nairobi Elephant Orphanage

For just $50 a year you can adopt an orphan and the money goes directly to the project. You receive an adoption certificate, regular updates by email and a watercolour painting of the adopted elephant. Sponsors also have a chance to visit and stay at Ithumba. The sanctuary in Tsavo National Park is where the babies spend the next stage of rehabilitation. When ready they are slowly released back into the wild. You can make a difference to the plight of these babies.

Baby elephant drinking the milk bottle all on his own at Nairobi elephant orphanage
Drinking the milk bottle all on his own!

Sponsors of babies can arrange a special night visit to the Elephant Orphanage between 5 pm and 6 pm to see the babies put to bed for the night. The babies each have an individual stable they share with their keepers. This must be the most special job in the world!

Keeper and his baby elephant
Kennedy Mulu and baby Sokotei get ready for bed. The keepers spend 24 hours a day with the babies.

The entrance fee is 500 Kenyan Shillings (about $6.00).

If you have a tour or safari booked through an operator, ask them to include the Elephant Orphanage with your tour or you can get a taxi.

elephant plays in the red dirt at nairobi elephant orphanage
They have so much fun

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Our driver and guide was Martin Maina from Nairobi Specialist

Playing in the mud at nairobi elephant orphanage
Playing in the mud is pure bliss.
Read More of our Kenya Blogs

Elephants of Ithumba
Masai Mara: Our Ultimate Camping Safari
Lake Nakuru National Park
The Perfect 14 Day Kenya Itinerary
Practical Tips for Visiting Kenya: A Guide for First-time Visitors

14 Responses to “Nairobi Elephant Orphanage: An Unforgettable Visit”

  1. Noela Christina Curry

    Absoulutely fantastic as usual makes one wish they were there.

  2. Sue Thomas

    Amazing photography well done thanks for sharing, this experience is on my wish list.

    • Ray & Sue

      It certainly is an experience of a lifetime Sue. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Katrina Zicchino

    Such beautiful images. They really show how happy these babies are. Thank you for highlighting this wonderful organisation. If I am lucky enough to visit Kenya it is definitely a place I would visit. You have inspired me to sign up to sponsor a baby elephant. Cheers and thanks!

    • Leonie Cooper

      Awesome photos, such beautiful babies, thank you for sharing, the keepers have an amazing job!

    • Ray & Sue

      Thanks Katrina. We are glad we have inspired you, as it is a wonderful organisation and a great cause. It makes you wonder what would happen to all the baby Elephants without them.

  4. Wonderful stuff! You highlight the plight of animals so intimately. No one could doubt you two are equal to the calibre of those carers and they are special indeed! Money donations would certainly help, but only love could compensate them for giving up their lives to be on call to (any) baby 24/7! And who knew elephants needed milk for so many years? If it’s true that ‘an elephant never forgets’ isn’t it something that at least these babes will know that not all humans are like the beasts who hunt their parents for sport! Awesome!

    • Ray & Sue

      Thanks Marie for following our blogs and your comments! It really is an amazing organisation and everyone involved works tirelessly for the welfare of the little Elephants. It was an amazing experience to see them.

  5. Julie Mirdoch

    Thank you for reminding me what a fantastic time I had at the orphanage! it is definitely a must see. If you go and want to see the littlest baby’s for the noon mudbath — arrive early so you can go to the far end where the blankets are.

    In order to fully experience the magic of the elephant orphanage, it’s totally worth it to foster a baby elephant. That way you are able to go back and see them at night for their feeding. A magical experience to see these little angels!

    I foster 9 elephants (6 were at the orphanage) and getting to meet your
    orphan(s) is just the best experience of your life.

    Amazing photos of this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience!

    • Ray & Sue

      Julie thanks for your comments and hints. The night time visit is really special.We remember seeing photos of the keepers putting the babies to bed at night and we couldn’t believe it. Seeing it for real doesn’t make it any less amazing.

      You are pretty amazing yourself to sponsor 9 Elephants!!

  6. shai-lea Maddern

    Thank you so much for this site stunning amazing photography so inspiring, my mum has been tagging me in so many of your post and this has inspired me to visit many of these places

    • Ray & Sue

      Hi Shai-lea thanks so much for your inspiring comments! It makes our day to recieve messages like yours. Please contact us if you have any questions and thanks for reading our blogs.


Leave a Reply