I believe that you have to have a heart of stone not to view elephants as very special animals. During my visit to Zambia, I was lucky enough to see many in the wild and was also able to visit an elephant nursery. I’ve come to realize that one can never see too many elephants! This post will showcase the Nursery’s elephants so read on to learn more about these cutie pies.
What is the purpose of Lilayi Elephant Nursery?
Elephants are surprisingly vulnerable creatures considering their size. Due to poaching and human/animal conflict, elephants are under threat. Some stats say that as many as 25,000 elephants are killed on the continent of Africa every year – that is an insane amount! The Nursery looks after orphan elephants found anywhere within Zambia. Apparently, orphans under the age of three very likely will not survive without their mothers so facilities like this nursery are hugely important.
At the Nursery, orphans are cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their carers take them on walks in the bush, feed them their bottles of milk, and are close by at night when they are sleeping in their stables. The carers essentially become a parent to the orphans and are part of the healing process for them. As the elephants grow and become more confident, the amount of contact with the carers is reduced and more time is spent out in the bush with other elephants.
Did you know? A baby elephant drinks a 2-litre bottle of milk-based formula every three hours. It takes them less than 30 seconds to drink a bottle!
Visiting the Lilayi Elephant Nursery
The site operates on a first come first serve basis so try not to arrive at the last minute. When you arrive, you’ll pay a small fee and then once it is time, you’ll be sent out to the viewing platform. If you’re picky about photos like me, you’ll want to be at the front!
Note the viewing platform – at no time will you be touching or interacting with the elephants as the whole point of this place is to rehabilitate and return. We can’t let these babies get too used to human contact. What this means in practical terms for your visit, is that just like with animals in the wild, you’ll want decent zoom capability on your camera.
If you arrive for the 11:30 feeding, you’ll receive an informative presentation from one the employees about the elephants currently at the Nursery. When I was there, there were five elephants ranging from four months old to three years old. Once the elephants arrive in the viewing yard, you’ll get to watch them be bottle fed and then they roam around the yard either munching on branches or playing in the mud. Expect lots of squealing…from the humans, haha.
Location: On the outskirts of Lusaka (about half an hour from about the centre of Lusaka), at the entrance to Lilayi Lodge. You’ll need access to a vehicle to get out here, if you’re not actually staying at Lilayi Lodge.
Time: You can visit the Lilayi Elephant Nursery any day of the year between 11:30am and 1:00pm. Aim for 11:30 if you want to watch the feeding.
Cost (at the time of writing): K50