Giraffes join guests at the breakfast table in African hotel
Posted July 22, 2009on:
Guests at this hotel in Kenya must prepare themselves to share the breakfast table with some rather unusual companions – a colony of giraffes.
The 140 acre estate, run by Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley, is home to eight Rothschild giraffes – some of the rarest on the planet.
Every day shortly before 9am the animals stroll up to the house and poke their heads through the windows and doors in search of morning treats.
The Carr-Hartley’s, both 38, spend breakfast sipping orange juice and picking at croissants, literally sharing their dining table with the world’s tallest mammal.
And now the pair are sharing the mesmerising experience with the outside world – opening the manor gates to guests at the world’s first giraffe hotel.
Mrs Carr-Hartley said: “Mikey and I grew up near to this manor house when we were children.
“We are both third generation Kenyans who have always wanted to work in conservation.
“Mikey’s family have been involved in the protection of animals for many generations.
“His grandad was even involved in the relocation of giraffes as far back as the 1930s. Moving the giraffes ensured their protection and continued existence.
“When the house came up for sale we jumped at the chance to buy it as we had always dreamed of one day owning it.
“We are now absolutely overjoyed to be involved with the protection of this very endangered species.
“Having the giraffes so close is very special and something which people can now experience by staying in one of the six rooms at the hotel.”
Giraffe Manor is home to eight Rothschild giraffes, they are some of the rarest on earth second only to the Niger Giraffe, with only a few hundred left in the wild.
A conservation project to save them was started at the Manor In 1974 when the grandson of a Scots Earl, Jock Leslie Melville and his American wife Betty bought the stately home.
Later that year they moved two highly endangered Rothschild giraffe into the estate where third and fourth generations live on.
As well as the herd of giraffes, the manor plays host to a large families of warthogs, exotic birds and the elusive bush buck.
Guests feed the giraffes at breakfast, but can also get up close and personal with them from the second floor bedrooms.
Mrs Carr-Hartley added: “We know all of the giraffes by name, 13-year-old Lynne is the leader of the herd and can be very persistent about getting treats
“Pretty Arlene is 15-years-old and is the smallest of the six females. She loves people and will stand below the terrace and allow people to hug her.
“She quite often loves to just hang out with us and loves to be stroked and touched.
“She had her only calf, Barney, in August 2007, they are devoted to each other and he has really come on in the last few months.
“He is still a little bit nervous about being stroked and touched but he loves kisses.
“He is currently on the cusp of a scruffy schoolboy and always has food between his horns dropped by the larger females
“He is a typical teenager – one moment a sweet little boy and next second full of attitude.
“Every day at 9am the herd like nothing better than to stroll over to the house and have a good morning stretch.
“They have special pellets which are made for race horses, but are very nutritious, otherwise they snack on twigs and leaves around the grounds.
“The giraffes bend all the way down to take treats from the front door entrance, they are very friendly.
“But guests need to keep in mind giraffes are graceful, but very powerful animals so we ask them not to approach them when they are roaming the gardens.
“The conservation of the giraffes is very important to us, the giraffes here are semi tame because they have been hand reared.
“But the previous owners ran a very successful breeding programme, where many giraffes were released into the wild and we hope to continue.”
The Rothschild giraffes that roam the estate are the second most endangered subspecies of giraffe and there are only a few hundred of them left on earth.
They lost much of their natural habitat in western Kenya and faced extinction.
The giraffes at the site grow up to more than five metres tall, weigh 1,900kg and have a life expectancy of about 20 to 30 years.
Story by the Telegraph.co.uk