Abby the giraffe has warmed many visitors' heart. Picture: Clinton Moodley.
Abby the giraffe has warmed many visitors' heart. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

Tourism Month: Meet Abby, the friendly giraffe

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Sep 4, 2019

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If you are planning a trip to East London, make sure you head to Areena Riverside Resort, which is home to Abby the male giraffe. Abby, whose mother was poached when he was young, is no ordinary giraffe you would see on a safari. 

The 13-year-old loves interacting with humans, be it with a selfie or being fed by guests. This is through the interaction with humans he had at an early age. He was adopted by owners Ed and Karen Rathbone of Areena Riverside Resort.

The Rathbones fed and offered the giraffe the tender love and care he needed. After spending a few years wandering around the resort, Abby was put into the reserve to connect with the wild. 

The resort, about 35km from East London, offers interactions with Abby via game drives or segway tours. Carolyn Turnbull, the manager of Areena Riverside Resort, said Abby is an international star. 

She said guests from as far as Brazil travel to the resort to meet him. 

“Abby loves being the centre of attention and has made quite an impression on guests. One day he followed a group of Dutch tourists on their hike within the reserve. 

“The group were impressed with him that they shared the experience with a local newspaper when they returned home,” she said. 

Abby has become friends with two of the female giraffes on the property, Sahara and Graffiti. 

He has an offspring called Gemma. 

The resort itself offers a variety of experiences, from ziplining, pellet gun target shooting and canoeing on the Kwelera River. 

Another place with fantastic giraffe interactions is Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. Located within almost 57 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, Giraffe Manor is the place where you are bound to find giraffe or two sticking their head through the window to show signs of endearment towards guests and tuck into a sweet treat. 

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