BY Lisa Lindblad
September 18, 2013
Dame Daphne Sheldrick has for many years run an orphanage on the grounds of Nairobi National Park in Kenya. Her story is wonderfully inspiring and can be pleasurably read in her memoir, Love, Life and Elephants. The important piece is that, many years ago, she discovered after much trial and error a mother’s milk formula that would keep orphaned elephants alive. The rest is history, both heart wrenching and happy, as elephant after elephant grows up, grows strong, and is reintroduced into the wild.
I have been visiting Daphne for many years with my sons. In the early days of her stewardship, we would come for tea, settle in on her screened in porch and watch the boys – then 6 and 7 – playing with the babies. They would pour water on the babies only to have it sprayed back at them via a well-aimed trunk. They rolled around in the mud holes on inner tubes, careful to slip out of the way of the already very weighty babies. As visits to the orphanage became more popular, the center had to designate visiting hours and keep those visits for eyes only. If a guest wanted to adopt an elephant, which can be done online at http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/, a time would be set at feeding time and a magical hour could be had.
Yesterday, there were 28 orphans, the youngest being only 10 days old. They are as individual and funny as always, and we found ourselves as enchanted as any child would be.