By Hayley Pugh
A friendly giraffe who was orphaned when his parents were killed by poachers has formed a unique friendship with staff at a nearby hotel.
Lonely Eric wandered into the grounds of Elsamere Lodge in Naivasha, Kenya looking for love following the brutal murder of his mum and dad.
The affectionate giraffe soon won the hearts of staff at the hotel and has returned on a regular basis delighting guests ever since.
Eric can often be found watching over staff during their day-to-day cleaning duties and posing for pictures with astounded visitors.
He also enjoys joining the locals at a nearby lake to collect water and wash clothes and will happily take leaves and food handed to him by stunned tourists.
Despite being harmless, the loveable giraffe has been known to get a bit too close for comfort for some, after eating a straw hat straight from the head of a visitor at the lodge.
Photographer, Mark Boulton, is a trustee for the Elsa Conservation Trust and was helping to set up a display at Elsamere, when Eric popped up at the window.
The trust chairperson’s great grandson had asked Mark to pack a straw hat as a present for Eric and the snapper captured him investigating his new gift as well as roaming around the hotel grounds and mingling with staff, guests and locals.
Mark, 80, from Mickleton near Evesham, said: “It was my last day and I was at breakfast when a head just appeared at the window.
“I didn’t have my camera so I ran up to get it and grabbed the hat too.
“I asked if anyone would be willing to wear it and everyone was kind of hesitant and perplexed until one guest volunteered.
“He didn’t actually eat this one, I don’t think it was made entirely from straw. He did seem very intrigued though.
“He’s just a real people giraffe. He seems to prefer people to his own kind.
“He likes wandering around but really does seem to like Elsamere the best.
“He does mini safaris up and down the road and as you can imagine he’s started to get a bit of a reputation.
“Everyone wants their selfie taken with Eric.”