The king of the jungle’s sneeze and roar are both terrifying (my heart split into two and shifted to my knees) and something to admire and respect at the same time. Makes you question if indeed we are at the top of the food chain or the lion is. How comes all lions are kings but not all men are kings? Anyway here I was at Nairobi Animal Orphanage where I met Talik, a cheetah, yes I am talking about a cheetah now, the fastest land mammal. Talik responds to his name, I know this because I called him by his name and he came to me, cat walking. The lion, let’s just call him Lion.
Lion doing Lion
The Nairobi Animal Orphanage was established in 1964, as a refuge for wild animals that were abandoned, orphaned or injured, which I think was a very good idea because no one can speak for these animals except me and you. Well of course sometimes mother nature does, cycle of life, no arguing about that. The orphanage itself, is a wider part of the Nairobi National Park – the first park to be established in East Africa. It was on the 16th of December 1946, when urban wild animals separated themselves from their rural folk who occupy Maasai Mara, Tsavo, Amboseli, Meru among other national park and reserves in Kenya, I imagine this is what Talik, our cheetah friend would say. Nairobi National Park has made Nairobi famous. It is the only capital city with a national park making Nairobi Africa’s prime safari capital.
Why Nairobi Animal Orphanage Stands Out
Although not close to the experience at Ol Pejeta Sweetwaters Chimp Sancuary (watch out for the review, or contact Uniglobe Lets’ Go Travel), the animal orphanage stands out because it is an educational and rehabilitation conservation area for orphaned, injured or abandoned wildlife. The most exciting adventure is when you get to responsibly interact with wildlife up-close and knowing that the money that you pay is used for a good cause and not for using these wonderful creatures for entertainment. You do not need a guide as all the animal cages have been well labelled with adequate information of each and every single animal from the smallest bird to the lions. The labels also mention how they were rescued and where they came from plus if they were orphaned and injured, and who happens to take care of all the wild animals in the sanctuary.
Charges range from KES 125 to 1300 depending on your age and citizenship. However, if you have membership with Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, the costs are KES. 50. I would advise that you go for Wildlife Clubs of Kenya membership because you will get special rates in most if not all national parks and reserves in Kenya.
How To Get There
The animal orphanage is located at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters along Langata Road. It is about a 7 kilometer walk or drive from the city center. Uber, taxify or little cab is your friend, but let’s try to reduce carbon footprint of transport. For this I recommend pooled transport, like a matatu or bus to get to animal orphanage. You can get a matatu or bus at the Nairobi Railways Station. Board the ones headed to Rongai. They will charge you KES 40. Alternatively get a bus going to Karen from Ambassador Hotel bus stage and pay KES 70.
You can always travel with Uniglobe Lets’ Go Travel
Where to Eat, Shop and Stay
Visitors to the orphanage can stay in many various hotels in Nairobi City including Radisson blue, considered the most responsible city hotel in Nairobi. Of course Giraffe Manor is close by, where you can have breakfast or lunch with a giraffe popping its curious head through the window to ridicule your of choice meal as if saying “nothing beats the taste of leaves twigs washed down with dew”
Want to shop for souvenirs (this is a very difficult word to spell) like artwork, tshirts, animal fridge magnets, miniature animal curvings, hats etc. Just before the entrance to the orphanage on the right is a shop where visitors can buy souvenirs. Rangers Restaurant Nairobi is located at the entrance of Nairobi National Park, however, it is currently closed. But outside the orphanage are other restaurants on Langata road.
When I reached the pay point I was greeted by the friendliest guards who helped me and directed me to the right places and I proceeded to enter the orphanage. I came in the afternoon, so I sadly missed the morning tour and the feeding of the animals which I hear is the most exciting time to visit the park.
My trip was exciting nonetheless as I got a chance to meet wildlife up close in this sanctuary for orphaned wildlife and so I took phenomenal photographs (not irresponsible selfies) of the animals. I met Talik the cheetah and Lion the lion among other wild animals like Leopards, Hyenas, Cheetahs, Warthogs, Crested Cranes, Antelopes, African wild dogs, crocodiles and Baboons, among other wild animals. Fancy a game drive at the Nairobi National Park after a visit of the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, I got no story about that, am fancying it like you, I did not do a game drive. I went back home after my trip to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.
Let’s rate the sustainability of the Nairobi Animal Orphanage
From my experience the orphanage has two major attractions. Rehabilitation of wild animals and viewing wildlife up-close. Nairobi Animal Orphanage is famed for its world-renowned efforts to care for abducted, abandoned and injured wild animals. With animals from as far as West and North Africa, the facility has wild animals of all kinds and species. The animals are used for educational and research purposes. Rating 7/10
Cages are clean but their drinking water is dirty. Some animals like the leopard was exhibiting stress associated with wild animals kept in captivity for too long, pacing up and down along its cage. This was heartbreaking to watch. Rating 4.5/10
The programme gives individuals and corporate a chance to sponsor and consequently adopt an animal at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage with 50 per cent of the sponsorship going to the conservation fund and the rest catering for the animal’s yearly upkeep. Each animal is divided into adoption share value based on the cost of its yearly upkeep. Rating 8/10
The orphanage has a waste disposal area with colour coded litter bins that I saw at the entrance of both the orphanage and the national park. Each colored bin had for plastics, cans, paper and bio-waste written at the top for ease of separation of waste. This goes as far as to show how the orphanage is managing its waste very well. I found this wonderful as they take conservation of their environment absolutely seriously. Rating 9/10
Every employee I interacted with was very hospitable and kind, from the security guard at the gate to the ticket paying area. Rating 8/10
Overall Sustainable Product Rating 7.3/10.
The animal orphanage is definitely a great place to visit and the intention of rehabilitating the animals seems to be genuine. However, the management should find ways of mitigating stress of the animals they have in captivity.
Reviewed By Barbara Michoma, USIU-Africa Student
Reviewed on 4th August 2018