Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village.
Pinnawalla is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. In 2011, there were 88 elephants, including 37 males and 51 females from 3 generations, living in Pinnawala. Prior to the invasion of the British in Sri Lanka in 1815, an estimated 30,000 elephants lived on the island. In the 1960s, following nearly a century of game hunting and jolly slaughter by the British colonialists, the elephant population was close to extinction. The tragedy of decimation of the elephant population prompted the Government of Sri Lanka to found Pinnawala (Pinnawela) Elephant Orphanage.
Today, the number of elephants living in wilderness exceeds 3,000.The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Young elephants sometimes fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. There are 48 mahouts (handlers) who take care of the elephants. The female and young elephants in Pinnawala range freely as a herd during the day in an area of a few acres.
They are herded about 0.5 km twice a day to drink and be bathed in the river. The orphanage is very popular among local and foreign tourists. The main attraction is the opportunity to observe the bathing elephants from the broad river bank as the herd interacts socially, bathing and playing. Visiting Pinnawala is good opportunity to enjoy the spectacle up close a large herd of elephants interacting together. The highlight is the elephants at the bathing hours: at 10.00 am and 2.00 pm daily, the animals are walked 400 meters to the river Maha Oya.
The visitors seated on the steep rocky banks of the river, are afforded the opportunity, to enjoy the sight of the herd of elephants bathing and playing at the river.
The bathing hours are followed up with the feeding hour at the main center of the orphanage. Baby elephants are bottle fed. Visitors (wiht extra fees) have a chance of bottle feeding milk to the baby elephants.
The orphanage is open to the public daily, and all admission fees are used to look after the elephants. Visitors to the park can view many different aspects of the care and daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the Oya River.
Don´t miss it on your Sri Lankan trip!
The centre opens at 8.30 and closes at 6pm daily. Bottle feeding is at 9.15am, 1.15pm & 5pm and bathing time at the river is at 10am and 2pm.
Cost (2010) for foreign adults: 2,000 LKR
I take a look for the hotels we recommend for this area.