Sushi, an endangered shoebill stork excited me the most during the behind scenes tour at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. My designated zoo guide advised me to bow and shake my head as soon as the lovely bird came closer. I was awed by the respect Sushi demanded and as soon as he felt comfortable in my presence he reciprocated by bowing his head as well. At one point he nearly bit off a few strands of my hair with his shoe shaped beak that has extremely sharp edges. These lovely birds can weigh as much as 12 pounds and grow to a height of about 3.5-5ft. They can also spend a maximum of 35 years in captivity.
Feeding the Giraffes was another exciting activity for me. I am a tall lady (about 5ft 11 inches tall) but felt dwarfed in their presence. As soon as the keeper opened the gate three of the giraffes started to gracefully walk towards us. I watched as their strong, long and closely set legs pushed them forward. I was slightly frightened as soon as they came closer to me, but immediately relaxed as I watched them aggressively grab small pieces of carrots with their mouths from my hands. I was amazed by the length of their tongues and the amount of saliva that was dripping out of their mouths into my hands as soon as I walked out of their enclosure. Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth while standing up.
The incredible thickness of the skin of the White Rhinoceros was fascinating to touch. It felt as hard as a rock almost like a thick layered carpet that had been laid over their bodies. I watched as they hungrily ate their afternoon snack and was careful not to get to close to their prominent horns. Unfortunately, many rhinos have been killed for their horns which have been used for various purposes. In countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China they have been used to make medicine while in North Africa and the Middle East to make ornaments. Fortunately for these two beautiful rhinos at UWEC they are safe and protected from poachers or any danger.
Charles was aggressively hungry. I could feel plenty of warm air coming out of his trunk as he hurriedly grabbed green, fleshy vegetables from my hand. The skin around his trunk was as tough as leather, I was amazed with how fast it coiled and the strength it exhibited. Charles Hamukungu is a male African Savannah Elephant that was born wild in May 2011, he was abandoned by his family after a broken leg at the Queen Elizabeth Park and transferred to the Uganda Wildlife Centre where he currently resides. He is a 10 year old happy and healthy Elephant.
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre popularly known as Entebbe Zoo was opened in 1952 by the colonial government in Uganda as a reception centre for wild animals that were found as casualties. The behind the scenes tour is a 2 hour educative adventure that offers a special inside look and interesting information on how they take care of resident primates, carnivores, reptiles, birds and hoof stock. The UWEC plays a great role in conservation & research, Animal rescues and Outreach programs making it worth the visit. I highly recommend a tour at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center.