How to Kiss (and Save) a Giraffe in Nairobi

On December 7, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

It’s a known “Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” fact that giraffes have long, black tongues. But I didn’t know they aren’t born with dark tongues. Like humans, their tongues are pink. After long hours in the African sun eating plants off trees, their tongue gets sunburned and turns dark purple. Let’s just say Oren and I got a really close inspection of these tongues on our recent visit to the Nairobi Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.


Naturally, the giraffe kiss isn’t really a kiss. When they see the irresisitble deliciousness of a tiny food pellet, they go after it the only way they know how: with their 18 inch tongue. And if that pellet happens to be between your teeth, you get a brief second of tonguing with a giraffe. Their tongue is a bit slimy, but it’s totally worth it. Some of the little kids who visited were afraid to feed the giraffes. Don’t be. They are as gentle as they are tall.


Cassie made a new friend!

These magnificent animals are beautiful and elegant. We got to pet the giraffes as we fed them. They are absolutely amazing to be around. I can’t stress that enough. Their big, black eyes seem so deep, even sad in a way. Maybe that’s because there aren’t that many Rothschild’s giraffes left.


The Nairobi Giraffe Centre was created by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife organization. The Rothschild’s giraffe, one of the three types of giraffes in Kenya, is an endangered species. At one point, there were only 120 left on the ranch in Western Kenya. But now, thanks to conservation efforts, there are more than 300 of them in areas around the country, living safely and breeding.


It’s amazing to see these beautiful animals in person.

The Nairobi Giraffe Centre has 10 of them. There they work to educate visitors and Kenyan school children about the country’s wildlife and environment. They are in the process of buying more land as well, to expand the animal sanctuary. The best part? Feeding the giraffes!



Oren wishes he was this tall.

With our entry fee of 1000 KES (about $12), we were given a bag of pellet food. We were instructed to feed the giraffe one piece at a time, with your thumb and index finger. Giraffes eat 20% of their body weight a day. That’s up to 140 lbs. of leaves and twigs! We could’ve fed them for hours. If there aren’t many people there, they keep giving you more food for the giraffes.

Many school children visiting the Nairobi Giraffe Centre had never even seen a real giraffe before. Still, I seriously think we were just as excited as they were to feed and touch this amazing African animal.

Check out our Nairobi Giraffe Centre gallery.


2 Responses to “How to Kiss (and Save) a Giraffe in Nairobi”

  • That is such a cute video! I always love interacting with the giraffes, they are so sweet.

    • We couldn’t agree more! They’re such beautiful and gentle animals. If only we could have them as pets…

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