First Lady Melania Trump made a stop along her African tour at an elephant orphanage in Kenya, where she pet baby elephants and fed them from a large bottle. She also visited the site of an ivory burn.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is in the Nairobi National Park, has raised over 230 orphaned baby elephants and staffs over 60 Kenyans as elephant keepers, according to a supplemental report by a White House pool reporter. The park is located about four miles from downtown Nairobi, and is home to several endangered species.
Though at one point appearing a bit flustered when an overly playful elephant almost knocked her over, the first lady smiled and seemingly enjoyed herself.
Melania Trump shoved by playful baby elephant pic.twitter.com/ENX005OMQp
— The Independent (@Independent) October 5, 2018
Kate Bennett, a reporter for CNN who is tasked with reporting on the first lady, said in a tweet, “I have covered @FLOTUS for almost two years and have never seen her smile and laugh more than she is now with these baby elephants.”
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) October 5, 2018
The first lady also made a visit to the site of an ivory burn, where illegally obtained tusks from elephants and rhinos are set ablaze by governments to send a message to poachers. According to National Geographic, the poaching trade is a major source of controversy in Africa, and is “driven primarily by demand in Asia for wildlife products.”
“For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said after the last major ivory burn in 2016. (RELATED: Trump Halts Lift On Elephant And Lion Trophy Imports From Africa)
Upon seeing the large pile of ash, Melania said to her guide, “It is sad to see this.”
This is ash from ivory burns — a conservationist effort meant to discourage the ivory trade. The most recent burn was in 2016.
“It is sad to see this,” Melania Trump told her guide. pic.twitter.com/nXL4OAA7Ys
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 5, 2018
President Donald Trump has called the importation of big game trophies a “horror show.” According to a memo released in March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now “intends to grant or deny permits to import a sport-hunted trophy on a case-by-case basis,” a decision which continues to be a source of contention.