11 Jan Explore the History of Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya
Sick and tired of the typical tourist stops? We think we all deserve something new and exciting. Why not add something a bit out of the ordinary to your vacation plans? Well, no worries. We’ve got the place for you – Giraffe Manor in Kenya!
Giraffe Manor is a specialized hotel. Yes, it’s a hotel. It’s located in the Lang’ata suburb of Nairobi, Kenya. Together with an associated Giraffe Center, the property also is a home for numerous endangered Rothschild giraffes.
The History of Giraffe Manor
The design of Giraffe Manor was based on a Scottish hunting lodge and was built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan. Duncan belonged to the Macintosh family of Macintosh’s Toffee fame. (Woah, there.) Although, it’s been through quite the changes in ownership over the years.
Sometime in the 1960s, Giraffe Manor was sold to an unnamed local investor. From there, it was leased it to several different people. The last to rent it was the late Dennis Lakin. After his death, the building sadly fell into disrepair and remained unoccupied. Fortunately for the giraffes, it would not remain all but forgotten. Betty Leslie-Melvill, alongside her husband, purchased the manor in 1974. They also purchased an additional 15 of the surrounding 150 acres. And since then, the manor has grown in acreage and popularity.
Soon after the Leslie-Melville’s bought the property, they found out that the relatively few remaining Rothschild giraffes in Kenya were in danger. The Kenya government had made a compulsory purchase of an 18,000-acre private ranch nearby the giraffe’s only habitat. Unfortunately, the deal resulted in their natural habitat being subdivided into smaller lots, leaving several giraffes to become killed.
The Manor at that time was already hosting three wild bull giraffes named Tom, Dick and Harry, so the Leslie-Melville’s decided to provide a home to one of the displaced giraffes that hadn’t been killed. They took Daisy in, a 450-pound, 8-foot-tall baby. The new giraffe would come to be the subject of Betty Leslie-Melville’s famous book Raising Daisy Rothschild. In fact, the popular book was later made into the motion picture The Last Giraffe.
From there, the giraffe population at the manor grew! And eventually, Giraffe Manor, working with places like the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, England, began a breeding program to expand the gene pool and reintroduce the Rothschild giraffe into the wild.
Today, Giraffe Manor is home to more than 10 giraffes. Specifically, part of the land is now dedicated to the Giraffe Center. The center is managed by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife which is a non-profit founded by Jock Leslie-Melville back in 1972.
In 1983 Betty Leslie-Melville’s son from her first marriage, Rick Anderson, and his wife Bryony moved into the Manor. The following year they officially opened the Manor as a privately hosted specialty hotel where guests would be able to actually feed the giraffes right from their breakfast table, out their bedroom windows or out the front door.
And most importantly, all profits from the hotel venture go toward funding AFEW. Since opening its doors, the hotel has hosted such celebs as Johnny Carson, Richard Chamberlain, Walter Cronkite (after whom one of the Manor’s warthogs was named), Mick Jagger and Brooke Shields. It has also hosted Ewan McGregor, Richard Branson and even Charlie Boorman on the official launch of Virgin Atlantic’s London–Nairobi air service back in 2007.
Finally, in March of 2009, Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley bought Giraffe Manor. It now forms a part of The Safari Collection chain of hotels and lodges. People from all over travel to experience a stay like none other. Giraffes at breakfast windows are totally included.