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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Are you having a giraffe? Two residents of Nairobi hotel decide breakfast IS included with their stay

By Tom Goodenough

Being the world's tallest animal can have many advantages.

For one, it means that giraffes can beat off the competition and forage in the very highest treetops.

And at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya, the animal's long necks mean they are able to bring a whole new meaning to popping by for breakfast.

The cheeky giraffes frequently pop their heads through the windows of the hotel in Nairobi

The 20-foot creatures, whose necks alone can measure more than two metres, are frequent guests at the table of the Carr-Hartley family home in the morning.

But as well as swinging by for food, the nosey giants also have a reputation for poking their heads through the hotel doors and even peeking through the windows of guest's bedrooms.

In the shadow of Kenya’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's tallest animals are free to roam their 140-acre estate and are regular visitors at their English-style manor built in the colonial era.

Every day, shortly before 9am, the mammoth beasts stroll up to the house and poke their heads through the windows and doors in search of morning treats.

The mammoth-sized guests pop by daily at 9am to see what is for breakfast

The unique hotel in Nairobi, Kenya is known for its charm and offers guests an unparalleled experience with the friendly giants.

Owned by couple Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley, both 41, who opened the hotel because of their shared love of the graceful creatures.

Scottish-born photographer Robin Moore, 37, joined the couple on a two-week safari where he was also lucky enough to stay at the unique hotel and capture its magic on camera.

He said: 'I stumbled upon Giraffe Manor online and I knew I had to go there, it sounded positively surreal.

'And it lived up to and surpassed all my expectations.

As well as swinging by for food, the nosey giants also have a reputation for poking their heads through the windows of the hotel to spy on guests

The hotel is owned by couple Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley, who opened it because of their shared love of the graceful creatures

'The feeling of coming down for breakfast to find Rothschild giraffes craning their neck in to greet you was just surreal.

'I had to keep reminding myself that this was really happening and I was here to witness it.

'I also got to learn the giraffes different personalities - the docile one, the cranky one, the gentle one.

'It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it made me see these magnificent creatures with new eyes.'

Mr and Mrs Carr-Hartley spent their childhood living close to the house in Nairobi and have both always been fascinated with the graceful giants.

The couple say they are overjoyed to be involved in protecting the endangered Rothschild giraffes

The giraffes are free to roam the entirety of the 140-acre estate as they please, and frequently mingle with guests

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 granddad 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.

Guest Robin Moore, who took the photographs during his stay at the Kenyan hotel, said it was a 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience to stay there

The conservation project at Giraffe Manor dates back to 1974, when two of the endangered giraffes first came to the estate

Giraffe Manor is home to eight Rothschild giraffes, which are some of the rarest on earth.

A conservation project to save them was started at the Manor in 1974 when the grandson of a Scottish earl, Jock Leslie Melville, and his American wife Betty bought the stately home.

Later that year, they moved two highly endangered Rothschild giraffes into the estate where third and fourth generations live on.

As well as the herd of giraffes, the manor plays host to a large family of warthogs, exotic birds and the elusive bush buck.

Do you mind? A cheeky giraffe at the Kenyan estate pops his head into a family snap

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: ‘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 Rothschild giraffes lost much of their natural habitat in western Kenya and faced extinction.

The ones at the site grow up to more than 16ft tall, weigh two tons and have a life expectancy of up to 30 years.



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