The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is one of the best locations in the whole of Sri Lanka. It offers the chance to get up-close and personal with the gentle giants that have become symbolic with Sri Lanka’s wilds – the Sri Lankan Elephant. In fact, Pinnawala is the only location in Sri Lanka that serves as an orphanage for these majestic pachyderms. Here the elephants are offered refuge, nursing and provided with a breeding ground. All the while, the orphanage creates a great opportunity for travellers to learn and interact with these amazing animals.
The Sri Lankan elephant has always held an important position in the culture and traditions of Sri Lanka. Elephants have long been recognised as animals of great prestige that deserve man’s respect. Being the second-largest animal to walk the planet, Sri Lankan elephants require large territories and immense quantities of food. Unfortunately, this has put them at odds with local humans and conflicts between the two has become increasingly common in Sri Lanka. As a result, the species is now considered endangered due to habitat loss and illegal poaching. Pinnawala provides these animals with a helping hand, offering a home for orphaned elephants, as well as older individuals that can no longer take care of themselves. At present, the orphanage’s elephant herd numbers 80 and over 50 mahouts are present to care for these creatures.
The orphanage is open from 8 am to visitors and as the day progresses there are many activities to see and try out. You can take part in feeding activities by handing fresh batches of fruits to the adults and big bottles of milk for the young calves. As the day heats up, the elephants will head on over to the river to cool off – you can join them! Bathing with these giants is one of the most fun and fascinating experiences you can have at the orphanage.