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Elephants and Giraffe

I'd been at JJs for a few days, trying to get the website up to date, and spending time with Jan, Paul and Lois, before Jan's return to Australia, and touring in Uganda by bike for Paul and Lois, before their return to Oz.

Being a bit of a sucker for anything "cute", I really HAD to go to the David Sheldrick centre for orphaned elephants, and the Giraffe Centre, both just a few km away from Jungle Junction, before heading south.

Feeding time for the baby elephants is 11.00am, so I made sure I was there in time, and got to park the bike right up the front, away from the general car park, amid comments and lots of stares.

The elephants are wonderful! there were quite a few keepers - one for each orphan, in fact - and several of these keepers gave commentary to groups of spectators around the rope barrier. The keepers actually SLEEP in each orphan's separate enclosure, (on raised platforms with mattresses) so that they can tend to them 24/7!!! It was interesting, although I had read the centre's fascinating magazine from cover to cover the night before at JJs! They currently have 14 baby orphaned elephants, ranging in age from 3 months up to about 26 months

.

They appeared out of the bush, in a nice single file, following a keeper, with the tiny baby immediately behind him.

Once they got to the feeding area which was surrounded by heaps of people, they quickly broke ranks and scattered to their keepers and the huge milk bottles. Those huge bottles of milk didn't take very long to disappear, and some of the older babies had another half bottle as well!

Above: And I'm just lovin' this bottle!!!!!

Above: Then it was time to chew a few green leaves.

Above: Or have a drink of water.

Above: Or suck my keeper's fingers

And then play time, and the mud puddle was a favourite, as it was a quite warm-to-hot day.

Above: shall we go for a dip?

Above: Yes, let's!

Above: Will we all fit in here?

Above: Yes, we do fit!

Above: There's even room for me to lay down!

Above: and I had a fine old time, I did!

Above: Time to go, as the big kids need their feeds now.

The older orphans, six of them, then came down for their feed, but it was far too hot for me, standing out in the blazing sun, so I opted out and stood in the shade. Of course, I couldn't see anything from there, so went up to the black rhino enclosure.

Above and below: It looked very much like a bullet hole in his shoulder!!

Then I left, catching some photos of a vagrant warthog at the centre's gate

Off to the giraffe centre, not very far away.

Again, I had an interested audience as I parked the bike. All African guys seem fascinated that a woman is riding her own bike in Africa, especially a "big" bike, as most of the locals only ride smaller 125 or 250cc bikes. Even the ticket collector on the gate at the far side of the area made comment as I passed through.

Giraffe seem even taller - if that's possible - when standing next to them. The centre has a raised rotunda style viewing platform for visitors to go up and feed the giraffe at their head level. They eat pellets of dry food, much like dry dog food, and greedily look for it in any outstretched hand.

There were school children there, who were a little dismayed when that big black tongue came licking towards them, so much so that they pulled their hands back and/or dropped the pellets on the floor. The pellets which fell through the fence and onto the ground were soon snaffled by the two warthogs, presumably there for just that reason - to keep the ground clean and to keep rodents away.

Below: This is Lynn, begging for food.

Above: Please, just one pellet on my tongue?

Above: Oh, c'mon, just one! Don't be frightened of me.

Above: Yes, that's right. Right on my tongue! Thank you.

Far down the back I spotted a new addition to the centre, a 14 day old baby. But mumma was keeping him as far away from the limelight as much as possible. The keeper told me she won't bring him to the viewing stand until he's at least 6 months old.

Above: Mumma is so tall I accidently cut her head off!

After I'd had my fill of the giraffe, I wandered over to check out the "souvenirs", and happened to notice these tortoises Below in the pen next door. What amazing, intricate patterns they have on their shells. They almost look hand-carved, they are so exact.

Above: This was a cheeky one, scoffing greens all the time, and not continually hiding his head like the other one Below

It was a great day, watching all the animals, but I had to go back to JJs and pack, ready for my departure the next day, as I'd wasted enough time lately. The past week had been spent updating the website!

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