Day 9- Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary & the Giraffe Center

I woke up a lot in the night- not thanks to pretty loud, inconsiderate neighbors- and the cot was really hard. I had to go to the bathroom of course and it was all just liquid. I told Bryan I wasn’t feeling good and he noted, “I heard” and that he was sorry. This was bad because I cannot appear sick for the gorillas- even if whatever I have is not contagious, the mere appearance of illness can keep me from making the trek.

Besides feeling stiff and not interested in food, I was also achey. I didn’t feel like I had a fever, but I felt like I do when I have a fever. At brekky I could barely eat my eggs and toast- again pretty much losing it right after…

We wanted to get to the sanctuary early to get a place right up along the rope, where the baby elephants go up to people and you can pet them! We were not going to be standing a few rows back and we were all willing to knock people down for it 😉

We ended up with a driver, Charlie, who Mat knew and was only going to charge us $60 for all of us. He had a mini van that was really one seat short of our number, so we had to squish into the back seat. It was ok as the ride wasn’t terribly far, but it was tight.

We were technically the second people there- an hour and a half early- as a European couple were in front of us. We joked about how we’d have to look out for each other and block the line from people cutting. By the time we’d started waiting in line, I was starting to feel worse and worse- now nauseated and getting dizzy besides feeling achey and weak.

On my way back from the bathroom a girl exclaimed, “You’re from Motley Zoo! I adopted my dog from you”! I didn’t have anything MZ on and had pulled a hoodie over my head so this girl has a great memory…and what a really bizarre coincidence?! We chatted for a bit- the dog was Julianne Hough, which I remembered as it wasn’t too long ago and while Pate technically did the adoption, I had talked with her a bit. She had also left her adoption bag of goodies, so when she came back to get them, I was there to hand them over.

HOW WEIRD IS THAT?

By now it was time to make a break for the ticket line and we hustled. It was funny to see so many adults running like children to be first for ice cream or something. For some odd reason they only charge $5 US per person to get in (as the ED of a charity, I do not think that’s enough), so after paying, we ran up to the roped area…which was actually pretty big and offered A LOT of front row space 😉 This is good though and we were happy, all lined up with no one in front of us- waiting for the babies to arrive.

We actually saw a giraffe and some antelope in the background, when suddenly someone kind of cooed/ squealed as one of the elephants came running from behind some bushes beyond the ropes!

They all ran to their keepers who had a wheelbarrow of about a 2 liter (or greater) sized baby bottles with long orange nipples, who turned the bottles upside down for the hungry babies. They sucked and spilled, and made the cutest noises until each was done with theirs.

By this time I was really starting to feel ill. Sometimes when I stood up (I was squatting and hanging over the rope) I would feel like I was going to vomit. I was dizzy and then I had to squat again. 

They had actually announced that you were not to squat lest the babies fall on you in their games or think you’re a toy- so I stood up any time an elephant walked by. It was hard and I kept thinking I had rested, I could stand, but no- and right back down to squatting and literally hanging over the rope. I was honestly thinking about leaving the line to go sit down on some stone steps that allowed the people in the back to get some height over the rest of the audience…I started to make the move more than once, but I couldn’t break myself away from the spot.

There were branches laid out around the rope area where down the way some babies went over to chew on and play with them, close enough for the audience to pet them. This went on for a little while, as well as some push each other over and mounting antics…but where was our baby? We could not leave here without one coming up to us!

Pretty much as soon as I had that thought, a baby came walking over to me. She picked up the branch in front of us and turned sideways so we could pet her. She kind of wandered back and forth eventually stopping for a while facing me so her forehead was my main target. She flailed the branch around a bit- which we had to watch our faces/ eyes) and at one point i was able to grab the branch and pull. She pulled, I pulled. She was strong- and she won 😉

This was probably about a 10 minute interaction. I am not sure how long any of the other elephants stayed near the ropes or in one place, but it was a very satisfying and I couldn’t ask for more (except to be the one to bottle feed them and play with them all day and put their blankets on them for bed)…

These elephants went out and actually some larger ones, a bit older came out. I was really excited to see them, but man I was really struggling to stay upright. I didn’t get to really enjoy this as much as I would have wanted to, but I am glad I fought the urge to leave the rope and go sit down. It took everything I had though to stay- I fet awful.

They do have baby rhinos there but they were not a part of the presentation- not sure if just today or normally not- but basically after the second group went back, the show was over. There was a massive bottleneck of people trying to exit, but I had to sit down and wait- I could not wait in the line standing up. 

The line finally trickled down to a manageable, moving pace and we joined in and left. The driver was waiting for us, but naturally I had to hit the bathroom- again- and the same results…

I slowly walked back to the car and told everyone i needed to sit near the window. This was a better spot than on the way, although I felt bad for those in the back. Marina literally has giraffe legs, so she sat in front with Charlie. I opened the window a ways and just put my head back.

We were still supposed to go to the Giraffe Center- and everyone asked if I wanted to head back, but there was no way, even if i didn’t go in, that I would have them take me back and the return…and really, I waned to do this- you get to feed the giraffes!

This is the sanctuary side of what was originally Giraffe Manor. It is likely that you have seen something about this before, where it is an exclusive, British looking cottage covered in ivy and the giraffes come up and eat from your hand out the window!

The cheapest room here is $1,300 per night and it’s booked out nearly a year in advance. We were going to go there, just because we wanted to experience that once, but with our safari dates, it just didn’t work out. We were disappointed but especially now after seeing the sanctuary, I am fine with saving the money and having less time with the giraffes (and a crowd to contend with). It would have been a big stretch for us anyway, so although I would still love to go, it wasn’t destined for this trip.

I wouldn’t say I felt better but I was able to stand in the short line to get into the center and quickly went to the snack bar to get something other than water. My mouth felt so dry but water wasn’t satisfying and I felt like I needed something else. I picked a sprite, eagerly swigging it and shortly I did feel a tiny bit better. I think not only was it quenching but also the little bit of sugar was helpful to stop me crashing completely.

Every person who enters the park gets a tiny packet of food to feed the giraffes. In front of us was a low brick wall where people were lined up feeding two different giraffe. Someone tried to pet the one and it reared its head back causing the ranger nearby to say she didn’t like petting but up on the platform there was one who didn’t mind.

People were feeding and taking selfies and we all had fun getting in the and feeding them. Their tongues are blue and pointy, not very sticky/ drippy and they cup the end of their tongue so you can drop the little pellet on it for them to suck back up.

We went upstairs to the platform where you could be face height with them to feed them. There was quite a crowd and we had to push our way to the front (as people were not taking turns), but we each got some time with them.

Giraffes have to be some of the most bizarre creatures ever. They have occiscles, not horns- and the males will have bare ones from fighting each other; the female still have velvet on them. There are 2 types, Rothchild’s and Gravelley’s and the difference is basically their patterns. Rothchild’s is likely the one you think of when you think of them. What i love especially are their soft eyes, large eyelashes which make them seem so demure and gentle- even when their head is about 2 feet long!

I would have loved to stay all day, but I was still not feeling great and Charlie needed to get us back and tend to other things, so it was time to head out.

Back at camp, we had to change rooms. I imagined we’d have a tent again like last night, but we actually had a room with a bathroom! It was very nice and modern with a glass sliding barn door even.

I just went straight to bed and laid there almost until dinner. I felt a lot better after some sleep but I could only muster a few spoonfuls of pumpkin soup for dinner- which was SO good, I wish I could have eaten more.

I didn’t linger to chat after dinner, just went back to the room. Things were still flowing far too freely I was starting to get worried about dehydration. I am drinking but I can only fit so much, or feel sick because of it. This is similar to how I felt before we went to Africa the first time- when I got so dehydrated I had to go to the hospital for fluids. I kept this in mind, making myself drink a bunch even if i couldn’t eat. As long as I don’t get dehydrated, I will recover and be ready.

I started taking the cipro were were given for the last trip. It was technically expired, but I knew it would still work. It needed to work because I was not going to miss the gorillas- or anything else- for being sick. Cipro is extremely powerful and should be able to knock this out.

 

I was in bed when Bryan came back (not late) and hit the hay himself. We had to be up at 7am for early departure. We were driving to the (Maasai) Mara for the start of our safari!

 

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