Love and Care at its best
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is the only Elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka which was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife. The primary intention of establishing this rare type of orphanage was to provide care and shelter to baby elephants that were found lost and wandering in the wild. The Elephant Orphanage is located at Pinnawala village, 13 kilometres northeast of Kegalle town in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka.
Initially the elephant orphanage was located at the Wilpattu National Park, which was then shifted to the tourist complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo. Finally it was established on a 25-acre coconut plantation adjoining the Maha Oya river in the village of Pinnawala. Since the establishment of the orphanage it had never refused a single orphaned elephant. At the start there had been only four orphaned elephants and at present there are over a hundred. On many occasions the mother of the orphaned baby elephant had been killed or baby elephants fallen into pits. There also had been incidents where the mother elephant had fallen into a pit and died leaving the baby elephant lost and hungry or instances of adult elephants being killed by farmers to protect their paddy fields which leaves the baby elephants orphaned.
In 1995 the Department of Wildlife established the Elephant Transit Home adjoining Udawalawe National Park. Since then, orphaned babies have been taken to the Elephant Transit Home as they grow up. There are 48 mahouts who take care of the elephants. During the day, the females and young elephants roam freely within a restricted area and the males are chained and managed individually as they can be aggressive at times. They help with work such as transporting feed.
It is amazing to observe the daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding the elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the Ma Oya River. You can also request and feed a baby elephant. It will be a truly unique experience and Pinnawala is the only place where you could experience it.