Cutest Orphaned Giraffe Ever Gets Special ‘Skyscraper’ Stable

Left to fend for himself in Kenya, Kili now has a new home, thanks to supporters from around the world.

Kili rests his chin on the head of one of his keepers. (Photo: Courtesy David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Nov 28, 2014· 2 MIN READ
John R. Platt covers the environment, wildlife, and technology and for TakePart, Scientific American, Audubon, and other publications.

An orphaned Kenyan giraffe named Kili has a new home this week thanks to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, whose supporters helped to build a special stable for him to sleep in.

Kili arrived at the Trust’s nursery for orphaned animals in Nairobi, Kenya, in August after being found wandering alone in Amboseli National Park. At the time he was just one week old but already nearly six feet tall. The nursery’s stables were built to hold young elephants, rhinos, and other animals, so they didn’t provide enough headroom for the rapidly growing giraffe.

The Sheldrick Trust had never hosted an orphaned giraffe before, so it turned to social media for help. Supporters around the world donated $3,600 to build a new “skyscraper” stable with higher ceilings, more legroom, and a taller door. It’s right next to the elephant stable where Kili was first housed. A window between the two stables allows him to stay close to his old roommates.

“He can still look through to see his little elephant companions, Ndotto and Nkii, and their night keepers,” said Bob Brandford, the director for the Trust in the United Kingdom.

The stable wasn’t the first adaptation the nursery’s keepers needed to make. They also had to rig up a way to feed the growing giraffe. They ended up building a special feeding ladder in order to be at the right height and angle for Kili to drink from bottles of milk.

Kili was experiencing some minor health issues when he first arrived at the nursery. His front knees had stretched tendons that slowed him down and made him appear double-jointed. This could be why he was separated his herd in the first place, although Kenya also has a problem with giraffe poaching. Brandford reported that this injury appears to have healed. “It doesn’t impede him. He can move pretty quickly when he wants to.”

He’s not quite quick enough yet, though. The nursery is located in Nairobi National Park, whose resident lions view young giraffes as easy dinner. One of those lions had its eye on Kili recently while his keepers were exercising him in the nearby woods.

“Our brave keepers protected him from a lioness when she attacked last week when they were out in the forest,” Brandford said. “Luckily Kili was left with just a couple of scratch marks. It's further proof of the necessity of his nighttime stockade—which provides protection from lions at night—and his need for daytime caregivers.”

The new enclosure will provide Kili with the space he needs until he has grown large enough to defend himself from lions and other predators. At that point, probably about a year from now, he will be released back into the wild to join the park’s other giraffes. “It is our hope he will assimilate into the wild population here in Nairobi Park,” Brandford said. “He’s already had many chances to meet and observe his wild kin, although at his young age, he still loves his keepers.”

Kili has already put on at least a foot in height since he arrived at the nursery, so the new stable has arrived just in time. You can see him and two orphaned ostriches also in the Sheldrick Trust’s care in the video below.