It’s the third time I’ve visited the Giraffe Centre – and it just never gets old!
The Giraffe Centre is one of those places that is easy to take for granted – especially if you live in Nairobi. Nevertheless, it’s only about 40 minutes away from the city centre, and I always jump at the opportunity to visit it whenever one arises. This time around, I was taking a family friend there.
We arrived at the centre in the early afternoon and found it relatively busy. This wasn't surprising, seeing as it’s one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city. It attracts tourists and locals alike.
We bought our tickets at the entrance. Each ticket costs Ksh.400 for resident adults and Ksh.1500 for non-resident adults, while children pay half of the adult prices.
Once in the centre, we went on a guided tour of the grounds and learnt more about the vision behind founding the centre as well as what the staff do to keep the animals under their care healthy and safe. We also learnt that giraffes are sensitive animals and were advised not to randomly pet them as they could try to headbutt us in defence.
Although the giraffes look similar from a distance, each giraffe has a different pattern on its fur – kind of like human fingerprints. I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed that before!
Some giraffes are friendlier than others; and it wasn’t hard to tell which ones those were, as the others kept their distance from us the entire time we were there. The friendly ones are easy to feed. One of them is called Stacy, who I fed pellets from time to time.
I also got to experience a ‘giraffe kiss’ for the second time. 😘
A ‘giraffe kiss’ is just another way of feeding the giraffes. Usually, guests to the centre are given handfuls of pellets to feed the giraffes with. The typical way of doing this is by picking one pellet at a time from your palm and reaching it out to the giraffe so that it can slurp it out of your fingers with its tongue. But you can also put a pellet in between your lips and the giraffe will try to retrieve it from you by “kissing” you, i.e. scooping the pellet out of your mouth with a rough, wet lick and rolling its tongue back into its mouth as soon as it gets hold of it.
Despite the unfamiliar feeling of the giraffe’s tongue on my mouth, it was an exciting and harmless experience – one that I’d surprisingly be willing to go through again. 😄
The Giraffe Centre can only house one male giraffe at a time as they tend to get violent when they are together. We saw the current male tenant standing at a distance while we were there. He didn’t interact with us as much as the females did. Our tour guide later told us that he’ll eventually be replaced so as to prevent inter-breeding.
After spending some time with the giraffes, we had a look in the souvenir shop to see whether there was anything we wanted to take home with us. There’s also a restaurant on the grounds that serves refreshments to guests. However, we didn’t buy anything from it. We left soon afterwards as we had a long journey back home.
The Giraffe Centre is open from 9.00 am-5.00 pm every day - even on holidays. It should take you about 60-90 minutes to fully enjoy the experience of not only interacting with the giraffes but also learning about them and how you can be a part of the work that goes into taking care of these precious animals.
If you’d like to contribute to the work the Giraffe Centre does, you can leave your donations in a glass box located at the feeding platform – or can transfer them online through their website.