Do you want to watch elephants bathe in a river just a few feet away? Do you want to feed a baby elephant with your bare hands? Then Pinnawela is the place to be.
The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world! Founded in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, it was originally created to protect and care for orphaned wild elephants. Situated in Rambukkana, northwest of Kegalle town, along the Colombo – Kandy main road, the orphanage initially had 5 baby elephants. It first started in Wilpattu National Park, then moved to Bentota, Dehiwela Zoo and finally to the 25 acre plot in Pinnawela by the Maha Oya river.
Now an orphanage, nursery and breeding centre for Asian elephants, it has earned popular tourist interest. Up to 2012 there have been 65 births, the first baby elephant being born in 1984. During the day elephants are allowed to roam around freely with their mahouts and create herd structure. From the orphaned, earless, blind to crippled, this orphanage has opened its arms to Elephas Maximus Maximus from all walks of life.
The main highlights would be the daily activities that take place at the orphanage.
Feeding Time : All the baby elephants are fed milk with feeding bottles in the morning ( 9.15 am), afternoon ( 1.15 am) and evening ( 5.00 pm).
Bathing Time : Daily at 10.00 am and 2.00 pm the elephants walk to the Maha Oya river to cool off. The sheer joy of watching them enjoying themselves in the water is a treat. They roll, splash, lie down and even say hello to their visitors. Some of the younglings wade over to the other side and play in mud, gently teasing one another.