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“Not as authentic as I had hoped” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The Millennium Elephant Foundation

The Millennium Elephant Foundation
Randeniya, Hiriwadunna, Kegalle, Sri Lanka
94 35 2265377
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Ranked #2 of 2 attractions in Kegalle
Type: Nature/ Wildlife Areas
Attraction Details
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
“Not as authentic as I had hoped”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

We opted to visit MEF over Pinnewala because we wanted a more intimate and authentic experience. But it was a lot more touristy than we expected and felt like we were being quickly shuffled through about three stations. The first station is where you can pet a young elephant, second stations is where you can bathe an elephant and the third station is where you ride an elephant. Each time you come in contact with an elephant and mahout, you are asked for money (gets tiring, especially since their website claims they do not encourage this type of tipping that is apparently common at Pinnewala). If we handed over less than 100 rupiah, we received looks of disgust. It is a good opportunity to get upclose and personal with an elephant, but the whole experience felt very manufactured for us. Given that the only alternative is Pennewala, I would still recommend visiting MEF, but perhaps adjust your expectations. Cost was 2000/pp and hopefully some of that fee actually goes to elephant conservation as claimed.

Visited July 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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167 reviews from our community

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Woolacombe, United Kingdom
1 review
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“The MEF is an amazing place doing incredible things to better the lives of captive elephants in Sri Lanka”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

After reading these reviews I was deeply saddened to hear some comments saying how the Millennium Elephant Foundation was a 'cruel tourist attraction'. Those of you who have left such comments have clearly not taken the time to find out what the MEF actually do.
The MEF is the only charity in Sri Lanka working to better the lives of captive elephants. As I'm sure most of you will agree, elephants belong in the wild, but in many countries across Asia elephants are kept in captivity as they are so deeply embedded in the culture and religion. They are also now used heavily for tourism, so for those of you who have visited irresponsible elephant treks and safari's, are not contributing to the solution. Due to this, as sad as it may be, there are captive elephants in Sri Lanka, and this is not going to change anytime soon.
The MEF was founded in 1999 by Mrs Camrinie Samarasinghe in memory of her husband and in association with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and has since been working continuously to improve the care, protection and treatment of elephants across Sri Lanka.
What people do not understand, is that these elephants are not owned by the MEF and are not kept here for tourists. These elephants are owned by rich elephant owners, who would have them chained all day under the hot sun outside temples, chained in gardens to show off status, put to work in logging, or used in irresponsible tourist safaris. In these situations, there is no body there trained in elephant care. Many elephants suffer horrible lives in these places.
The MEF pays these elephant owners a wage to have the elephants kept here instead, where we have elephant care experts. The MEF pays for all of their food, treatments, vitamins, medicines, anything that they need. The elephants here, yes do give rides to tourists, and yes it is a great experience, but it is done responsibly, not with heavy howdahs that can be very damaging and painful to elephants. the money made here goes to the charity and is used caring for these animals. The MEF is a non-profit organisation. The MEF has nursed many elephants back to health. Bandara for example, arrived here in an awful state after a life working in logging. After time at the MEF he is now a healthy and happy elephant. The MEF has the potential to better the lives of many more elephants.
Yes, the elephants at the MEF are on chains, but without an enclosure, there is no other choice. There are plans for an elephant enclosure to be built, which will allow these elephants to roam free, for the first time in their lives. The fence is to cost £50,000. For more information see: http://www.millenniumelephantfoundation.com/projects/enclosure/
The MEF is also working together with the AWF to help conserve wild elephants in Sri Lanka. Working closely with local communities they are putting in place strategies to reduce human-elephant conflicts across the island.
I know all of this as I have taken the time to find out more about the MEF and am astounded by the incredible work that they do and was shocked to read these negative comments. I only hope that people can take the time to find out what they are talking about before they leave such opinions. The MEF need all the help they can get for this amazing work, not bad mouthing by people who haven't taken the time to understand.
With your support, together we can help make this world a better place for elephants in Sri Lanka.

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“You'd be a fool to miss this!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2012

It was so refreshing to go to a place that is not out to make money but genuinely cares about the conservation and welfare of elephants. ALL money here goes to running this foundation which gives the elephants a safe and happy place to live, saving them from lives of logging or working in cruel conditions.

Don't be fooled by other places that seem cheaper - the money they make is taken as profit whereas this is the only non government organization in the country.

I got to feed an elephant, ride on the back of one (bare back, as the metal seats impair their breathing and hurt them) and wash one. All were absolutely AMAZING experiences and I wish I could go back. Do not miss this!!!!

Visited May 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuching, Malaysia
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Perfect complement to Pinnawala”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2012 via mobile

Love the fact we can get up close and personal with the elephants. Hate the fact the mahouts and guides keep asking for money (1000Rs!? I thought the ticket is all inclusive!)

American volunteers on site said the elephants are being treated humanely.

I think it is alright to go for both Millennium and Pinnawala because they have different objectives. The former is more intimate, the latter more majestic.

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Sevenoaks, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Don't think that there's a lot to do! But go.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2012

We drove here and there were barely any signs so make sure you know roughly where it is on the map.
We chose the 15 min elephant ride option. Glad we did - other than spending your 15 or so minutes with the elephant there isn't much to do. There's a mini 'musuem' area which you can read. We got chatting to the volunteers there and they are in the process of building a better museum and building a shop etc, so in a little while there may be more to do.
I am very glad I went though. Got showered by an elephant, rode on one, then fed it and washed it in the lake. Very good experience that I won't forget. If you're in Kandy and travelling to the airport/Colombo it's definitely a 'must do' little detour.
Girls - make sure you don't need to use the toilet while you are here!

Visited May 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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