See baby jumbos wondering around their cramped foster home or bottle fed and bathed by their human foster fathers at Pinnawala, about 90Km from Colombo towards Kandy is the home to some 100 or more elephant orphans. A place you will really enjoy and never forget. Most orphans are accustomed to their curious human visitors are harmless.
Pinnawala is the most popular and accessible place to see large numbers of these lovable animals in a natural habitat. It is the most popular elephant ‘attraction’ with tourists because nowhere else, except at the splendid ‘pereheras’ will you see so many elephants at such close quarters. The government opened it in 1975 since many more baby elephants than usual had become separated from their herds that year. The persistent drought had dried up many village wells into which the young elephants had fallen, while attempting to get a drink. Even today elephants fall into quarry or gem-mining pits, and poachers or angry farmers who shoot the adults for destroying their crops, orphan some youngsters.
The Orphanage is open from 8.30am to 5.45pm and visitors can interact a little with the elephants during the regulated bathing and feeding times. The baby elephants gulp down several huge bottles of milk, fed to them by their mahouts, and then it’s off to the river for a bath. The inherent gentleness of the animals is most obvious during this time. Most of the elephants eventually become ‘working’ elephants, and some older females occasionally add a baby to the herd.
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