Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

One of the best places to see large numbers of elephants in a controlled environment, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage lies half an hour off the main Colombo-Kandy road from Kegalle. The 25-acre complex was established to care for orphaned and injured young elephants, but now includes a captive breeding programme, which has seen its population rise to over eighty of these majestic beasts.

Pinnawala is best visited at feeding and bathing times which happens twice a day at 9am and 1pm. Feeding commences with the youngest being led to stalls where they are bottle fed by caring handlers. The older and larger elephants require large quantities of green fodder, and mahouts use selected elephants to help in the mammoth task of carrying palm fronds and green branches to dispense it to the herd.

Following feeding, the herd is taken in a procession to the river nearby by an army of mahouts for their daily soak. Here the babies gambol in the shallows while the larger animals of the herd venture out towards the middle of the river and the far bank under the watchful eye of the mahouts. The older elephants also get some tender loving care with carers giving them a good scrubbing to ensure their hides remain healthy and parasite free.

Daily schedule and times 

08.30 Open to Public

09.15 Bottle feeding of baby elephants

10.00 Herd leaving to the river

12.00 Return from the river

13.15 Bottle feeding of baby elephants

14.00 Herd leaving to the river

16.00 Return from the river

17.00 Bottle feeding of baby elephants

17.30 Ticket counters close

18.00 Close to public

Written byJonathan Roelofsz for

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