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Haller Park, Unlikely Cast of Characters in Bamburi, Kenyan Preserve

Updated on June 5, 2013
Green Velvet Monkey Socializing at Sunset Terrace in Haller Park
Green Velvet Monkey Socializing at Sunset Terrace in Haller Park | Source

Haller Park

Haller Park, named after Dr. Rene Haller, is a mammouth project that he designed to reclaim the barren limestone strip mines for Bamburi Cement Factory. Haller worked for more than ten years for the company, growing food for the factory employees. He was then hired to implement a plan he envisioned to take back the miles of land that had been laid waste by mining limestone from old coral beds. In 1970 he began with planting three thousand trees in the hard coral. Roads and paths were developed for workers to care for the new seedlings. This initial investment has developed into a huge animal and nature preserve with an education center, walking and biking trails and a cast of animal characters that have garnered world attention.

Sally and Potty

Aldabra Tortoise at Haller Park
Aldabra Tortoise at Haller Park | Source

Baby Hippo Adopted by Ancient Tortoise

Sally and Potty were the first two hippos to be taken in to the nature preserve. But it was Owen who took the world by storm. Owen was stranded at a beach in Malindi on the coast of Kenya after the tsunami of 2004. A rescue effort was mounted and he was brought to Haller Park. Once there, he was adopted by Mzee, which means old one in KiSwahili. Mzee is an Aldabra Tortoise and is over one hundred and thirty years old. Owen and Mzee lived together for two years before he was introduced to a hippo named Cleopatra. The relationship between Owen and Mzee was truely charming.

Maribou Stork at Haller Park

South African Crested Porcupine
South African Crested Porcupine | Source

Crocodiles at Haller Park


Meet some of the Rest of the Cast

Aquaculture was started at the park in 1980 with a small commercial fish farm. The area is a great place to observe water and scavenger birds that are out to make a quick meal of an unaware fish. The Marabou Stork is a scavenger bird that frequents the area. It looks a bit like a scruffy undertaker.

South African Crested Porcupine

This porcupine is nocturnal. He likes to hide in the rocks, burrows and crevices in the day and be active and eat at night. He has long white sensitive hairs, called guard hairs that allow him to feel the location of an intruder. When angry he stomps his back feet, spikes up his quills and backs up or steps sideways to spike the intruder. Sometimes lucky visitors, like us, do get to see this large porcupine.

Crocodiles are kept at Haller Park for viewing and for production, as some of the skin and meat are sold. When crocodiles lay eggs, the eggs are removed from the nest and incubated to improve the rate of survival. Crocodiles provide phosporus for plants since they are able to digest bone and deposit the minerals back into the ecosystem. The crocodile feeding time is a highlight for many visitors. Dead chicken carcasses or other hunks of meat are placed on a string and pully system. The crocs jump and grab them, to the delight of bystanders.

Sunset Terrace


Cape Buffalo, eland, oryx, antelope, and waterbuck are some of the other animals which can be found at the park. There is a butterfly pavilion and a giraffe feeding center where the giraffes can be hand fed. It is quite an experience to have a long, rough giraffe tongue on your hand. Ancient tortoises roam the property. There is a playground for the children, lush vegetation throughout the park a restaurant and a snack bar by the lake just in case you are thirsty .

If you enjoy this hub, please feel free to give it a thumbs up, leave a comment and follow my other hubs. Thank you for reading this and I hope you found it interesting. Lenzy

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Haller Park

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Bamburi, Mombasa, Kenya
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    • Lenzy profile image

      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      Thank you April. I loved my time in Africa and hope to write about another place today or tomorrow. I would be happy to have you take a look. Thank you again for your story.

    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 5 years ago from Arizona

      I enjoyed reading your hubs this morning Lenzy. I would love to visit some of these places you have been to. Thank you for sharing!