Kenyan Elephant Sanctuary Embraces Goat Milk as a Healthier and Economical Feed Option

In the arid scrublands of northern Kenya, the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary has taken a bold step in revolutionizing how it cares for its small herd of orphaned elephants.

By considering an unconventional alternative, the sanctuary is exploring goat milk as a more nutritious and cost-effective option than human baby formula.

This innovative approach benefits the elephants’ health and provides financial support to the local community.


The primary mission of the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, established in 2016, is to rescue and care for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves.

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As the young elephants grow and become capable of surviving in the wild, the sanctuary releases them back into their natural habitat.

In the past, the sanctuary relied on expensive powdered baby milk to nourish the calves. However, Dr. Steven Chege, the facility’s veterinarian adviser, revealed that they are now experimenting with goat milk-based formula, especially for infant elephants.


This shift is especially crucial as these vulnerable animals often experience psychological trauma after losing their mothers and being separated from their families. Thus, ensuring their health becomes a significant challenge.

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Dr. Chege emphasizes goat milk’s nutritional benefits for small elephant calves’ survival and well-being.

The milk’s rich protein content, which is highly digestible, makes it an excellent choice. Additionally, goat milk is less likely to cause stomach upsets, providing a smoother transition for the young elephants.


By adopting goats’ milk as an alternative to baby formula, the sanctuary can potentially reduce the feeding costs for its herd, which consists of around 15-30 elephants.

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However, a comprehensive study accounting for all associated expenses, including refrigeration, is yet to be conducted to determine the full extent of cost savings.

Notably, this new feeding scheme brings significant advantages to the local community, particularly goat farmers like Liwana Lenakukunyia. Many farmers, primarily women, have become suppliers of goats’ milk to the sanctuary.


Liwana expressed her satisfaction with this opportunity, as it provides a new source of income for her family. Embracing goat farming and selling milk to the sanctuary has economically empowered her and other farmers.

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The heartwarming sight of the young elephants eagerly lapping up goat milk from feeding bottles in their dusty enclosure is a testament to the success of this innovative feeding approach.

It caters to the elephants’ nutritional needs and nurtures local farmers’ livelihoods, fostering a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship between wildlife conservation and the community.

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