Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Wild elephants still roam throughout Sri Lanka but with humans increasingly encroaching on their viable territory, their numbers have dwindled substantially.
Pinnawala is located West of Kandy on the Colombo highway and hosts the largest elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, accounting for around fifty elephants at any given time.
Most of these elephants were orphans who lost their parents to poachers or as a result of simply being left behind by their herd. Many were badly wounded when found, like a female elephant who had lost her eyesight as a result of a poacher's gunshot.
The orphanage was set up in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife to look after young elephants who had been orphaned or abandoned and were in need of care and attention. Just five baby elephants where brought to Pinnawela with the hope of attracting visitors to fund the organisation and help it grow.
The five babies have multiplied into a healthy herd of around 40 elephants of various ages. Some were born at the orphanage, while others continue to be brought in when down on their luck. As the group has grown, every attempt has been made to allow the elephants to function as they would in the wild and develop their own herd structure. This is what makes Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage so special for the visitor.
The orphanage is open all day but it is best to time your visit with the twice daily feeding and bathing. At 9.15am and 4.15pm, the baby elephants are taken into the stalls where they are tethered and then bottle fed with milk, providing endless photo opportunities. This might be a crowd pleaser but it's not the highlight; what really steals the show is the bathing.
We offer Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Excursions as part of some our Sri Lanka Round Tours.