Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is where you can find the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Established in 1975, it is a popular breeding ground for wild Asian elephants working towards the protection and welfare of these wild mammals. Orphaned and unweaned calves and wounded adults spotted in the forests of Sri Lanka are taken in here for proper care. Here you can take a closer look at the elephants who freely roam on the premises, learn elephant behavioral patterns, and get to know the ways of mahouts. Located amidst the major tourist destinations of the country, a visit to this elephant park is much more convenient and worth your time.
With the fame of having the largest number of captive wild elephants, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. The orphanage is home to nearly 96 elephants from three distinct generations and a total of 48 mahouts. With sufficient vegetation, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage scrawls across 25 acres (10 hectors) of coconut tree land that adjoins the Maha Oya river that runs close by helping to meet the need for the immense amount of water. Although strolling freely, the elephants are chained in solitary confinement accompanied by mahouts and carers all the time.
Get acquainted with these three elephants in the park much loved by the staff for a reason. Sumana the Tusker is the one with a pair of magnificent tusks. Kumari is the oldest one in the park and also is the first to obtain motherhood in Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Mathalee, the mother to five calves, is one of the founding members of the park. She is the matriarch of the herd with good command and respect among the herd.
The island of Sri Lanka had an estimated record of over 30,000 elephants prior to the advent of the British invaders back in 1815. The population of the elephants considerably fell close to extinction by 1960, after a century of hunting and slaughter of these mammals coupled with human-elephant conflict. That is how the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department established this elephant orphanage in Pinnawala in 1975 in order to provide care and protection to the orphaned and wounded elephants in the jungles of the country. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage started off with the adoption of five abandoned calves named Vijaya, Neela, Kadira, Mathlee, and Kumari.
In the beginning in 1972, the orphanage was a part of the Wilpattu National Park and shifted to the National Holiday Resort at Bentota Beach and then to the Dehiwala Zoo prior to the designation as Pinnawala. The patronage drifted to the hands of the National Zoological Garden In 1978 that followed by a captive breeding program in 1982.
If you are visiting this elephant park, it is advised that you know its timing for various daily routines in order to organize your visit here.
08.30 hours – Open to visitors
09.15 hours – Bottle feeding
10.00 hours – Herd leaving to the river
12.00 hours – Return from the river
13.15 hours – Bottle feeding
14.00 hours – Herd leaving to the river
16.00 hours – Return from the river
17.00 hours – Bottle feeding
17.30 hours – Ticket counters close
18.00 hours – Close to public
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located at Pinnawala village around 13 Kilometers (8.1 miles) northeast of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. Positioned 90 Kilometers away from Colombo, the park is halfway between Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy. From the capital, A1 Colombo - Kandy main road shall take you here. You need to take a left turn to B199 road just past Kegalle around 82 Kilometers down the line. Through B199, the park is just around 10 Kilometers away. If you are catching the train, remember that the nearest railway station to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is Rambukkana, just 2 Kilometers away from the Pinnawala Village.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage strives for the wellbeing of those unweaned orphaned calves ones, wounded adults, and those lost in the wilderness by taking into its animal sanctuary where natural habitats are arranged with human care. Both modern vetenarism and indigenous healing ways shall be made use of here. Elephants, although chained, suffer no kinds of abuse and harm on the premises. They are properly cared for by a skilled team of mahouts. Elephants shall have cut-loose movement inside its enclosed natural habitat that stretches over hectors of land where they naturally mate and get on with their instincts. Females and babies shall have the walk during daylight and females are individually kept at night. While the males have some restrictions and they are normally chained and managed in single. They shall be taken to bath two times a day and shall be manually fed. Unlike the adopted ones, the babies born at the park are not bottle-fed.