Life in the wild is dangerous for giraffes. The tall vegetarians are often killed by wild predators. If one gets orphaned or separated from its family, usually it is only a matter of days before a big cat or other predator finds it and has it for lunch. However, in the case of Kiko the giraffe, she found some big, safe friends who helped her survive and find a new life in Kenya.
16. Saving Wild Animals
Animals who are orphaned in the wild usually have no chance. It is often up to rescue groups to find and save these animals. That’s where groups like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust come in. This organization operates mostly in Kenya. It is dedicated to rescuing orphaned elephants and other animals and rehabilitating them so they can live in freedom.
15. The Mission
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has the following mission: “The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safeguarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.”
14. Orphan Project
The Trust’s Orphans’ Project has achieved world-wide acclaim through its hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. The project is specifically attuned to restoring Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn. The Sheldrick Trust has successfully hand-raised over 150 infant elephants.
13. Animal in Need
Although its primary interest is in saving elephants, that doesn’t mean the group ignores other animals in need. That’s how a baby giraffe named Kiko found his way into their loving hands. A group of people noticed an orphaned baby giraffe who was alone, hungry, and very scared. The people immediately called Sheldrick Trust for help.
12. Saving Giraffes
Volunteers from the Sheldrick Trust did not hesitate to get involved with saving a giraffe. They quickly determined that he needed milk and was still too small to sleep with the other giraffes who were in the group’s care. Then the group had a brilliant idea: could Kiko hang out with the baby elephants?
11. Disney Movie
In the wild, elephants and giraffes live in two different worlds. They don’t mix. The caretakers were amazed when they introduced the animals. Something amazing happened between two baby elephants and Kiko. In fact, the bond the trio have developed is just like something that Walt Disney dreamed up. Bring on the movie!
10. Weiwei and Lobito
The baby elephants are known as Weiwei and Lobito. They were immediately taken with their new baby giraffe friend. Lobito was just three weeks old at the time. He became enchanted with Kiko and follows the young giraffe everywhere. Lobito is tiny, and Kiko is tall. They make a striking duo.
9. Role Model
Elephants are known for forming strong familiar bonds. The matriarch elephant is the one in charge of the herd. But since the two baby elephants do not live in a traditional elephant family unit, they have decided to look up to Kiko as their role model. This makes a certain sense: Kiko was the only animal near them that is obviously bigger and taller.
8. Giraffe Life
Giraffes live in herds too, but they lack the strong family bonds of elephants. Giraffes are more independent and love to come and go as they please. The only exception is for mothers and their offspring, who have close bonds. The females form close bonds and even care for each other’s babies through nursery pods. But giraffes often leave the group at will.
7. New Social Skills
Despite their natural lack of social bonds, Kiko is developing a close relationship with his elephant friends. His socialization is completely different than it would have been in the wild, and he is demonstrating an ability to learn. Giraffes are often considered silent, but this is a myth. Giraffes like Kiko vocalize and are experts in non-verbal communication.
6. Modern Family
The trio loves to go everywhere together. At bedtime, they snuggle together. The baby elephants nestle down into Kiko’s belly and then rest their trunks on his neck. When it’s time to eat, they dine together. When it’s time to go for a walk, they roam as a unit. They are a true modern family.
5. Giraffe Friends
Many animals in the wild want to befriend giraffes. The reason is simple: they are very tall animals who can look out for danger and see it long before other animals. Giraffes are like early warning systems about danger. However, giraffes tend to be choosy about their buddies. Researchers have found that like humans, giraffes have sophisticated ways of determining who to be friends with. Obviously, for Kiko, these two elephants passed the test.
4. Giraffe and Zebra
Giraffes have become friends with all sorts of animals both in the wild and in captivity. One-month-old Gus the Giraffe became fast friends with Zebedee the Zebra. In this case, such bonds run in the family. Gus’ dad, Gerald, was also pals with Zebedee. These animals live at Noah’s Ark in Bristol.
3. Social Network Experts
Elephants, in contrast to giraffes, are highly social and have been called “social network experts.” A study concluded that elephants never forget an old friend. Even young male elephants, who live apart from females, actually have a complex network of family, friends and even acquaintances. Elephants are the Facebook of the wild.
2. Return to the Wild
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is committed to returning these three special animals to the wild one day after they have developed the skills they need for survival. Once they are strong enough to go forward as adults, they will leave their youthful friends goodbye. This may be a bittersweet ending, but it is the natural order for wild animals.
1. The Trust
This video from the Sheldrick Trust shows how fantastic the three animals are together, running and playing without a care in the world. Organizations like The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Nairobi Nursery are helping to preserve endangered species. Helping them with help ensure more stories like this in the years to come.