The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka 2012

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a definite highlight of any trip to the central part of Sri Lanka. The name is a bit misleading because it is not only an orphanage but also a place where captive breeding of elephants takes place. Despite this, the place is awesome. Once again the entrance fee I remember was a bit steep but it was worth every penny. As soon as we arrived we saw elephants crossing the road going to the river for a bath. After gong into the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage we were also quickly treated to a view of the baby elephants that could be fed and then a big field where the elephants spend their days. After that we followed a herd of elephants down to the river, sat at a hotel and enjoyed watching the elephants at play in the water. It was an awesome and worthwhile experience and we highly recommend the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to anyone who is traveling in the vicinity.

Baby Elephant -  Pinnawela - Sri Lanka, 2012
Baby Elephant at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Video of our Visit

The video below gives a good synopsis of what we did and what you can do at the elephant orphanage. It really is a wonderful place to visit.

Arriving at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

After our trip to the Millennium Elephant Foundation we went to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The trip from the MEF to the Orphanage was quick. As soon as we arrived we saw a group of elephants being taken to the river for a morning bath. We just stood on the side of the road watching the herd pass by. Security guards stand in the road to block cars from driving along the road until the last elephant passes. It was an incredible sight.

Three Legged Elephant

The most amazing sight in this herd of elephants was the three-legged elephant shown in the picture above. The poor animal battled and tried to do the best he/she could but it looks like the animal has a really tough time moving around (see the video). We later found out that the elephant had lost its leg in the forest in a landmine and was taken in by the orphanage. It is very sad to see a beautiful animal like that in distress, but wonderful to see people willing to take care of it.

As you can see from the video above, the orphanage is an amazing place to visit and is highly recommended.

Sick Stranger at the Gate

Sick Stranger

Before we actually got into the orphanage, and just after we bought the tickets, I noticed another foreigner nearly passed out on the floor and his frantic wife. Since no one was helping her, I went to see if I could be of assistance. Turns out the guy was in bad shape and needed to get to the bathroom ASAP but he couldn't walk. I helped carried the guy to the bathroom and then tried to calm the wife down. Eventually some of the staff tried to help too. His wife told me that he had eaten a coconut four days previously and had since not been well. She said that they had been in the country for seven days of which four days were spent with him being very very sick. I persuaded their driver to take him to a hospital, and the staff also found one of the visitors was a doctor from India but he refused to talk to them. Eventually with the wife appealing to him in tears he finally came to talk to the husband and told them pretty much what I said: he needed to get to a hospital as soon as possible. After a long while I helped carry the poor guy to the car (see picture above) while my own wife was sitting outside the ticket area waiting for me. It was after seeing this guy that we became especially cautious with what we ate.

Feeding the Baby Elephants

Friendly Baby Elephant at Feeding Time

One of the activities at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is to feed milk to the baby elephants. We chose not to do this but it was still fun to watch. As you can see in the video, two baby elephants are put inside a small enclosure and then they are fed giant bottles of milk by the public. The baby elephants are really friendly and seemed to enjoy all the attention and fuss. One thing that amazed me was how quickly they could guzzle a bottle of milk. It was pretty amazing to see.

Feeding a Baby Elephant at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Feeding the Friendly Baby Elephant

Elephants at Play

At the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Watching the Elephants

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage also has a large, dry field at the back of the property where the elephants can meander around at their own pace, eat and do their own thing. It is also a place where people can take pictures with these beautiful animals and enjoy getting close to nature. These animals are very used to humans and interacting with humans as they do it on a daily basis, but they are still big and can still be dangerous and therefore the handlers are available to help you stay safe and help you take pictures close to the elephant.

With the Elephant - Pinnawala
Posing with the Elephants

The orphanage also has taken a blind elephant under its care. The elephant below is blind. He was wounded when he was shot for his tusks. He is now 74 years old and was blinded when it was 56 years old. He has a good life at the orphanage: he is well fed and well taken care of.

Blnd Elephant -  Pinnawala
Blind Elephants

There were just a lot of elephants milling about. We just loved standing there watching them. The pictures below give a good idea of the place and what we saw.

All the pictures below were taken by Queenie

Baby and Mommy - Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Elephants  -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Elephants Chilling Out - Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Baby Elephant -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Elephant  -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Baby Elephant - Pinnawala (by Queenie)

Elephants on the March

Elephant Herd at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Ready to March (by Queenie)

For myself, the most exciting part was when the handlers took the elephants to the river for their afternoon bath. They get all the elephants lined up (see above) and then start to march the herd towards the river, crossing the road and passing through a small town on their way down to the river. I cannot imagine being a vendor at one of those stores as the herd marches by a few times everyday. But still, for the uninitiated it is a tremendous sight. Of course, the handlers and the security during the march is pretty good as, even though the elephants are used to people, they are still big and can still squash anything in their way.

The picture below shows the herd charging out of the gate towards the river. I think these elephants pretty much know which way to go and I think they realize that nothing can really stand in their way.

On the March -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Through the Gate (by Queenie)

Queenie took another great picture of the elephants from behind. The picture gives you a real feel of being in the herd. As you can imagine, it was a fairly intimidating affair standing next to such large animals that were moving so quickly.

Elephant March -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Elephant March (by Queenie)

As mentioned earlier, the elephants are marched through a small town to get to the river. They are very used to the route and seldom deviate but they do sometimes do their business on the road. I cannot imagine having to clean up elephant dung from the front of my store every day. Despite the fact that the elephants March through there everyday, they didn't seem to cause any damage which is remarkable. But it should be said that the multiple handlers that lead the elephant herd are very good at directing the herd in the right direction.

On the way to the river  -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Elephant Marching into Town (by Queenie)

Elephant Bath Time

Overlooking the River - Pinnawala
Over Looking the River

I think bath time must be their favorite time of day. The elephants looked really excited when they were being taken into the river and once in the river they really did seem to enjoy themselves. The river was big enough (see above) but it didn't seem to be very deep. I guess in the rainy season it will be higher and much better for the elephants. However, the river did seem high enough for the calves and they happily played in the water. The water also seemed to act as an aphrodisiac for some of the elephants and they started to take care of, well, some monkey business.

What was great about the river side is that there are a couple of hotels where you can sit on the balcony, outside of the hot sun, and enjoy something cold to drink while watching the elephants frolic in the water. We must have stayed for the whole time the elephants were in the water and only left very late in the afternoon. As you can see from the pictures below, the views of the elephants was awesome.

Bath Time -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Wide River for the Elephants (by Queenie)

Elephants in the Water -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Elephants at Play (by Queenie)

Borthers at Play -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Elephants at Play (by Queenie)

In the River -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Elephants Staying Cool (by Queenie)

Elephant do it too -  Pinnawala
There was some monkey business

Our Overall Impression - FANTASTIC

Playing in the Water -  Pinnawala (by Queenie)
Playing on the rocks (by Queenie)

Of all the places we visited and thinks we did in Sri Lanka, this was Queenie's favorite. I thought it was an incredible and worthwhile experience too. It is great to get close to nature like that and even though these elephants are raised in captivity, the are still well treated and well fed. Some of the other elephants we saw in Sri Lanka were not so fortunate. If you are in the area we recommend you go. We don't think you will regret the expense or the trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.


"Trafalgar Square" (1) 798 District (1) Africa (1) Airport (1) Archive (1) Art (1) Asia Art Center (1) Aviary (1) bagpipes (1) Ban Nam Dee (1) Beihai Park (1) Beijing (5) Birds (1) Bitan (1) Boracay (2) Bozburun (1) Buddhism (1) Buddhist Temple (1) Bunny Chow (1) Cafe India (1) canopy tour (1) cat (1) China (15) Christmas (2) Colombo (3) COPE (1) curry (1) Cycling (28) Cycling in Taiwan (8) dance (3) Dog (1) Durban (3) East Rift Valley (1) Eco Lodge (1) Elephant (3) Elephant Ride (1) Ella (1) Family (6) Fire (1) Flower Market (3) Food (2) France (1) Friends (19) Fulong (1) Galle (2) Galle Face Hotel (1) Gokova (1) Guandu Nature Park (1) hiking (2) Hong Kong (5) Hot Springs (1) Hsin Tien (1) Hualien (1) Hutong (1) Ilan (2) Japan (3) Jing Shan Beach (1) Kandayan Dancers (1) Kandy (5) Kandy Lake (1) Kaohsiung (2) Karkloof (1) Kayak (1) Keelung (4) Khiva (1) kitten (1) Koh Samui (1) Laos (9) Laos COPE (1) Laos Puppies (1) Laos Travelogue (3) Leofoo Village Theme Park (2) Library (1) Lion Dance (1) Little England (1) London (13) Luang Prabang (3) Marmaris (3) Matara (3) Mimi (2) Miscellaneous (32) Monkeys (1) Moses Mabhida Stadium (1) Namtha (1) Namtha. Huay Xuay (1) New Zealand (11) Nuawara Eliya (1) Nuwara Eliya (2) Osaka (3) Our Stuff (11) Pettah Market (1) Philippines (2) Photowalk (1) Pinglin (2) Pinnawala (1) Pot Pie Cafe (1) Pudding (1) Puppies (1) Puppy (1) Restaurants (11) Shek O (2) Shihmen Reservoir (1) Singapore (1) Snake Charmer (1) Snow (1) South Africa (12) Sri Lanka (17) street performers (1) Sung River (1) Sunset (3) Ta An Park (2) Tad Sae Waterfall (1) Taipei (18) Taipei and Taiwan Travel Guide (6) Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1) Taipei Hsin-Beitou (1) Taipei Restaurant (1) Taipei Video (6) Taiwan (24) Taiwan Video (5) Tamsui (2) Tangalle (1) Tangelle (1) Temple (1) Temple Lunch (1) Tennoji (2) Thailand (1) Tissahane (1) Train (1) Travel (62) Travel Guide (1) Travelogues (7) tuk tuk (1) Turkey (11) Unawatuna (1) Unawatuna Beach (1) Urgut (1) Uzbekistan (8) Vang Vieng (4) Vang Vieng Eco Lodge (1) Victoria Park (1) Vientiane (3) Vientiane COPE (1) Wattay International Airport (1) Wedding (2) Weherahena Temple (1) Willesden Green (1) Worship Team (2) Xindian (1) Yala Nature Reserve (1) Yangmingshan (1) zip-line (2) 六福村 (2) 北京 (2) 北海公园 (1) 大安森林公園 (1) 建國花市 (1) 新店 (1) 石澳 (1) 石門水庫 (1) 碧潭 (1) 花東縱谷 (1) 衚衕 (1) 金山海灘 (1) 關渡自然公園 (1)

Popular Posts