The Orphans’ Project main wildlife nursery is a favorite stop for Ujuzi travelers when they first arrive in Kenya. Located on the outskirts of the capital near Nairobi National Park, you can see young elephants eat and play, learn more about elephant behavior, and observe some of the amazing work the center does to help orphaned wildlife thrive.
The elephants at the Nairobi nursery are infants to four years old, and they need round-the-clock care. Nursery staff supply feedings with specially formulated food to replace their mother’s milk, and they create a safe environment where young elephants learn important social and foraging skills. The calves spend most of the day in Nairobi National Park, where they browse to supplement their milk diets.
Onlookers get an up-close and personal view of the elephants at the Orphans’ Project nursery in Nairobi. Photo taken on an Ujuzi safari by Kathryn Kingsbury.
Elephants are very intelligent and herds have a complex structure, so staff pay just as much to the orphans’ behavioral and mental development as to their physical needs. Like humans, elephants use touch to communicate and explore the world, and infant elephants rely on frequent physical contact to develop properly. While visiting the nursery, you may find a curious young elephant petting you with its trunk—it’s their way of expressing interest in something new!