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How to feed a baby elephant

Aug 5 • 6368 views • 12 Comments on How to feed a baby elephant Adventure, Africa, anti-poaching, Conservation, East Africa, human wildlife conflict, tourism experience, Travel, Uganda, Uganda Conservation Foundation, wildlife

Last week I told you the tragic story about the increase in elephant poaching and how Baby Charles came to UWEC. But despite his sad start in life, he’s a very happy little elephant, bringing heaps of fun to anyone who gets a chance to see him – as we did on our elephant encounter.

As you can imagine, feeding baby elephant Charlie is not cheap. He drinks his way through 15 litres of milk a day, a mixture of human baby formula milk (SMA) and fresh diary UHT milk (less the cream), a diet he will have for the next two years.

Just saying hello!

Just saying hello! Like any baby, he wants to experience the new world open-mouthed!

A few fun facts about Charles:

• He loves bathing! Every day!

• He loves drinking water: he can drink up to 10 litres when thirsty! A fully grown elephant can drink a staggering 225 litres in one day.

• He likes running around and playing with his keeper Bruce, between feeds and naps

• He sleeps in a house – just like you and me!

Charles is unlikely to live back in the wild now, although relocation to a protected reserve is possible. He’s happy with his human companions and carers and loves running around and playing (he cries loudly if he is left on his own!) He has become ‘habituated’ (used) to human contact which, back in the park, could make him an easy target for poachers. Last year Mweya’s famous elephant Maria was poisoned, showing that animosity towards elephants is commonplace. Maria was a habituated elephant too, see R.I.P. Mary – elephant entertainer extraordinaire

Would you like to meet baby Charles?

You don't have to be a kid to enjoy meeting Charlie the baby elephant!

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy meeting Charlie the baby elephant! Photo taken a few months ago.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (formerly known as Entebbe Zoo) look set to turn tragedy to success, for this little elephant Charlie is sure to become a great ambassador for his species. Hundreds of primary school children visit UWEC every day. They now have the chance to see an elephant, the closest most Ugandans will ever get to see this magnificent animal.

A personal meeting with Charles is the latest addition to the brilliant ‘Behind the scenes’ tour at UWEC. For $50 per person you will be taken around the whole zoo, accompanied by a very knowledgeable guide, for approximately 2 – 3 hours. Morning visitors have a chance to actually feed the hoofed animals such as giraffe, rhino and waterbuck. Afternoon visitors may see and participate in feeding the Big Cats: Lion, Leopard and Serval cat – up close. If there are specific feedings you wish to see, please check timings when you book.

All it took was a phone call the day before we wanted to visit to see the zoo’s latest – and most famous – resident, Hamukungu Charles. It’s the chance of a lifetime, to come up close and actually touch this magnificent animal. Even in miniature, there’s something very special about elephants. Charles loves company will be very excited to meet you!

Tours are available 7 days a week and there is a 10% discount for group bookings. To visit Charles or donate milk to feed him, contact UWEC on 0414 320 520 or 0414 320 169. UWEC is open every day from 8 am till 6 pm.

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12 Responses to How to feed a baby elephant

  1. PA says:

    I want one ! So important for the children to learn about these wonderful creatures and (I would gently suggest) how their Indian cousins do such formidable work in the forests not to mention their service to mankind in war time. There was even a regiment of tuskers!

    • the muzungu says:

      He’s so darned cute isn’t he?
      Many conservationists would argue that Hamukungu Charles shouldn’t remain at the wildlife education centre (zoo). Elephants need an enormous amount of space to roam and there’s not much space for a fully grown elephant in Entebbe! But the fact is, the majority of visitors to the zoo are schoolkids who will never get a chance to see an elephant in the wild. When we were interviewing for a marketing officer at Uganda Conservation Foundation, I was struck by how few Ugandans had visited any of the national parks. For almost every single one of them, going to the zoo was the closest they’d come to their own country’s wildlife – the big mammals at least.
      As far as I’m aware, there is no history of training wild elephants in Uganda, like they do in India.

  2. Celes says:

    Good story. Hope UWEC has paid for the Ad.

    • the muzungu says:

      Thanks for the appreciation! No money has exchanged hands – just goodwill – but I reckon they should treat me and some friends to a day out don’t you? 🙂

  3. lizziema says:

    Yes he’s so cute I’d like to come and see him before he is less cute!

  4. Laurel says:

    Charles is adorable! Just a shame how he came to be at the zoo. I would definitely have to meet Charles if I’m ever in Uganda.

    • the muzungu says:

      I want to go and see Charles again soon! It’s a few months since my first visit, but apparently he’s small(ish),perfectly formed and as adorable as ever! you would love Uganda. Stay in touch if you ever want any travel ideas or suggestions of where to stay 🙂

  5. […] Elephants brought me to Uganda. (Yeah I know, most people would just get on a […]

  6. William Davis says:

    Where can I see and feed a baby elephant in Uganda? Can I still see Charles? is he still a baby?

    • the muzungu says:

      Hi William, Hamukungu Charles is a popular and permanent resident at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, although obviously he is a bit bigger now! (I wrote this story in 2012).
      He’s spent most of his life in the company of humans so it’s easy to interact with him. You can meet him in person if you opt for the behind-the-scenes tour ($70). The Keeper for a Day programme ($150) is highly interactive and can include time spent with Charles, if you request it in advance. When you book, specify that you want to see him. The Chimpanzee Close-up ($260) is another great experience.
      Call UWEC on +256 414 320520 or visit UWEC’s website .
      NOTE: The above prices are for tourists. There may be different prices for East Africans.

  7. […] in some very cool, interactive experiences at UWEC, such as feeding the animals and walking with Hamukungu Charles, the young elephant (a lot bigger than he was in this photo of six years ago!) UWEC’s Behind-the-Scenes experiences […]

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