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Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffe Centre

Get tall with nature's lankiest beasts and their warthog friends at this Kenyan preserve. 

Like the short-haired brontosauri of the modern day, giraffes are almost hilariously tall, and certainly don’t seem like the type of creatures one could feed snacks to, but at Kenya’s Giraffe Centre getting face-to-face with the gentle giant is the order of the day.

The centre was opened in 1983, but its track record of preservation goes back years earlier. The project that would grow into the Giraffe Centre first began in 1979 by Jock and Betty Leslie-Manville who set out to save the nearly extinct Rothschild giraffe. The couple’s project began when they captured a baby giraffe and set out to establish a breeding program to repopulate the spotted creatures. The Leslie-Manville’s started to raise giraffes right on their own property, and soon the centre was born with the addition of a private education center.

The repopulation project took off and the centre was able to reintroduce fertile giraffe couples to a number of Kenyan national parks. Of course they still kept a number of the animals at their center.

The Giraffe Centre opened to the public in the early eighties and is now simply part of a larger non-profit organization, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (Kenya) Ltd. Visitors can come to the centre and actually get right up into the faces of the giraffes via raised walkways. The animals can be fed little snack pellets and might even reciprocate with a lick with their big purple tongues. Adorable and gross.

A number of warthogs also roam the grounds.