Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Kandy Sri Lanka

The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present commerciel capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka and is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular animal attractions.

The site at Pinnewala covers 23 acres, and was founded in 1975 with five young elephants. There are now around 85 animals, ranging from those born at the facility - they have had over 50 live births, although not all are still resident at Pinnewala.

The animals spend the night in the main site, and in the mid-morning they are led down to the Maha Oya river, around 500 metres away, for a two hour bathing session. This walk takes them down the main street of town which is lined with gift shops, stalls, restaurants and other tourist facilities. During the bathing sessions tourists can watch the animals playing in the river and being washed by the keepers. More adventurous visitors are encouraged to touch the animals under the supervision of a mahout (elephant trainer), who expects a tip for this service.

At around noon the animals are led back through town to the main site, where they are left to graze for a few hours, supervised by staff, whilst tourists can watch from a distance. At this time the baby elephants are brought to a feeding shed where they are given milk from bottles whilst tourists watch. In the middle of the afternoon the elephants are led down to the river again for another bathing session, and a few hours later they are led back to the main site for the night.  The baby elephants are bottle fed three times a day at a feeding shed, where tourists can watch and some can buy tickets to take part in the feeding.