Forget roosters. At a 1930s colonial mansion-turned-boutique hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, giraffes greet guests every morning. As the breakfast room at Giraffe Manor fills, the lanky mammals poke their long necks through the antique windows, nibbling pellets off plates set between teacups. A herd of 10 rare Rothschild giraffes roam the 12-acre private property and the surrounding 140-acre forest as part of a long-standing breeding program started by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, a sustainable conservation organization established by the manor’s former owners, Kenyan citizens Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville.
Rothschilds remain the second-most endangered giraffe, due to their 15-month gestation period, high infant mortality and loss of habitat. On the manor, the giraffes breed naturally, making some of them third- and fourth-generation residents. Astoundingly, their daily cameos – timed for breakfast and high tea – are passed-down behaviors. Strapping two-year-olds are introduced into the wild; all told, the program has placed more than 50 giraffes in protected areas.
Skirting the shoulder rainy seasons (in this interpretative giraffe-print skirt), I may plan a visit in the new year. The hotel’s full-board rates would leave me free to frolic with the lofty denizens.