Talk about the elephant in the room!
If they're lucky, visitors to the Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park may be treated to the surreal sight of a small herd of pachyderms trooping through the hotel's lobby. Strolling along like they own the place, wild elephants cut through the hotel in order to get to a favorite snack -- mangoes.
Built in 1998, the Mfuwe Lodge is located squarely on one elephant herd's preferred path to some of the reserve's mango trees, reports the Telegraph. This architectural accident is now one of the safari lodge's main draws.
"The elephants start coming through base camp in late November of each year to eat the mangoes from our trees," Andy Hogg, director of Bushcamp Company, which runs Mfuwe Lodge, told the Telegraph in 2008. "When they are ripe they come through and they stand about for four to six weeks coming back each day or second day to eat the mangoes."
The elephants are so well known on the grounds that their human neighbors have given them nicknames. A female adult dubbed "Wonky Tusk" has been walking through Mfuwe for years, according to the Bushcamp Company's website. In 2009, a baby elephant was born on the lodge grounds and christened "Lord Wellington" by the staff.
"This is the only place in the world where elephants freely get so close to humans," Hogg told the Telegraph.
While by no means tame, the elephants are nonchalant during their periodic visits, especially when compared to some of the lodge's paying guests.
"There is usually great excitement when the elephants walk though, but we try to keep everyone calm," lodge general manager Ian Salisbury said, according to the Daily Mail. "The elephants are usually very relaxed and pay little attention to people. On occasions they have demonstrated how relaxed they are by falling asleep!"