Millennium Elephant Foundation

Millennium Elephant Foundation

Millennium Elephant Foundation
4
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
A family Run NGO working to improve the lives of domesticated elephants throughout Sri Lanka. Charity number 457. Home of the exclusive Elephant Walk Experience, A personal safari that allows you to follow the elephant around the 15 acre coconut estate as they foragae and wander and graze as they would in the wild. The alternative to elephant riding option and the most ethical, u close and personal experience you can have with captive elephants in Sri Lanka Offering a volunteer program where guests can have the hands on experience of caring for these gentle giants, and the opportunity to learn all about the situation for elephants in Sri Lanka and the hard work of Millennium Elephant Foundation Located half way between Colombo to Kandy this is the ideal stop for a unique elephant experience. We also offer accommodation, refreshments and meals for our visitors to enjoy in our traditional colonial house, surrounded by luscious grounds and greenery for you to enjoy
Duration: 2-3 hours
Does not meet animal welfare guidelines
Tripadvisor does not provide bookings for this experience because it does not meet our animal welfare guidelines.
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.

Top ways to experience Millennium Elephant Foundation and nearby attractions

See what travelers are saying
  • NR85
    13 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Okay experience
    It was an okay experience, most of the elephants were chained up and freed to give rides to tourist for 200 metres. Staff put us under constant pressure for tips for workers (guide and elephant handler). Happy to make an added donation on top of the entrance fee for the elephants, however wary of where donations will end up.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written May 9, 2023
  • Fiz25
    Manchester, United Kingdom60 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Pleasantly surprised
    Having read some of the reviews I was a little sceptical to attend MEF when our guide recommended the place. However, I was pleasantly surprised. We were met at the entrance to the ticket office by an English speaking young man. He told us what our options were with regards to what we want to do. We opted for the package without the elephant ride. This was 9400 rupees ( approx £24) for 2 of us. Once inside we were given some information about MEF. We were then introduced to the different elephants. We were then escorted to the river where we washed our elephant and met the Mahout ( elephant keeper). He didn’t speak much English but just smiled. We followed what he said and bathed the elephant. We then fed out elephant which we thoroughly enjoyed. Food baskets can be bought for 500 rupees once inside. Our elephant then made her way out of the water area and went for a short walk. In total we spent around 30 mins. The elephants were free and walking around. He walked us through the small museum area and explained us the different information about the elephants.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 1, 2023
  • Bea
    Sydney, Australia1,770 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    I was unsure about visiting but glad I did
    Being an animal lover I was adamant that I didn’t want to ride the elephant (had a horrible experience in Kathmandu). The guide will give you options prior to entry, we choose to feed the elephant a fruit basket (purchase for 500 lkr) and bathe the elephant. The elephants did not seem stressed or unhappy at all and gladly accepted fruit or verbal commands from the mahoot. They did mention they will phase out the elephant riding ( however as tourists we should refuse to do so therefore the demand is not there). Compared to the elephants in Nepal I felt they were handled with more respect and care. These are domesticated elephants who have been surrendered or rescued.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 16, 2023
  • Eszter
    Vienna, Austria20 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great experience with elephants
    It was an amazing experience to ride, feed, wash and shower with the elephants in this foundation. It was a little bit touristical and everything had to happen very quick because next tourists were waiting for the elephants already but it was a great day and a great experience. We had a wonderful guide with us called Malinga who was organized by „Magyarok Sri Lankan“. It was a great daily trip, we enjoyed it very much with Malinga and would book it again by the agency which has a hungarian website but I‘m sure that they also understand and speak English. They are great, uncomplicated, reliable and have very friendly and nice guides.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 31, 2023
  • Rahulakkara
    Mumbai, India307 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    MUST SEE ATTRACTION IN LANKA
    One of the best attractions in Sri Lanka. The place is privately owned . The entrance fees is a little high but that’s justified considering elephants have to be kept well and taken care off. Rightly so the elephants at the foundation are amazing specially POOJA the little one . From bathing them to strolling with them and even feeding them all this happens when u come to the foundation . Would highly highly recommend this for families with young kids when in lanka . It’s for everyone .
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 27, 2024
  • jayne w
    89 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Choose the walk and bathing experience
    Glad to see Raja and Lakshmi still best of friends! Some reviews mention animal care. These are domesticated elephants and cannot be released in the wild. They have worked in logging etc and often chained up alone much of their lives. This foundation lets them mix, wander around at their own pace some of the time, they get attended to by vets and fed properly. It is a compromise, they need tourist money to pay the elephants' owners so they have to interact with visitors too. Hopefully more people will choose walks and bathing with them rather than riding them. I found it magical and learnt so much about elephants.
    Visited March 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 30, 2024
  • Disy1964
    Kent, United Kingdom54 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Elephants are us
    My Sri Lankan guide took me here believing it was the best place for Elephants and is run ethically via a registered Foundation where Vomunteers are saught from Across the Globe . I have read some reviews and think they just really don’t get it or didn’t bother to do their own research ! Generations of elephants have worked for a living on way or another and no back in the Uk we have zoos , no we don’t put them to work or even have any understanding how precious these animals are to the people of Sri Lanka . I was very impress with the knowledge and the short one and half hr intinery I had washing , walking and feeding Pooja . I never felt once that these beautiful animals were mistreated and found the educational part of the trip just as meaningful as the hands on experience . The mahout was just amazing ! I’d have suggested my grandchildren come here to volunteer when they are older . Great experience for me accept the huge spider in the shower lol
    Visited February 2024
    Traveled solo
    Written February 19, 2024
  • Jade S
    3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A short shower with a twist!
    This was our second visit to MEF and the experience is just as amazing the second time around. The hands on experience you can have with the elephants is unbelievable. To be able to get so close to these beautiful animals is something I will never forget. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions. Highly recommend to anyone that wants to get close to these fantastic creatures.
    Visited April 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written April 15, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles1,300 reviews
Excellent
670
Very good
195
Average
119
Poor
82
Terrible
234

Chris
25 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Solo
I did my research before I headed over to the Millenium elephant orphanage. I had learned Pinnawala was run by the government for profit only. I read the other two in the area chained their elephants and forced them to do rides. I bought the standard ticket and was able to freely walk around and see 2 large elephants and a baby. I didn’t have a guide and I also read from the previous reviews it’s better to have a guide but I didn’t want to walk with the elephant because of the short time and I sure wasn’t going to ride like some of the tourists that don’t care too much about the elephants well being. When I arrived it was quite sad to see the mahouts with sharp prongs in case the elephant didn’t want to be forced to give rides. The baby was chained and swaying its head back a forth which meant it was under distress. I understand it is a sanctuary and it is opened to the public for money but it is still heartbreaking to see them mentally suffering. I think it would be way better to close to the public and just take care of them alone. The ticket gate woman was not welcoming and gave me a sneer when I didn’t buy a higher priced ticket for myself. I liked the education material and panels in the middle but I really think it would be better to have volunteers walking around the answer questions. The mahout that helped me feed my fruit to one elephant was requesting a tip from me and it added to the uncomfortableness. There were a couple a people washing the elephant in the water but no one offered me to join in and I was standing there watching the baby for at least 10 minutes. I would have liked someone to explain to me what goes on daily. My tuk tuk driver explained some things that made me feel better regarding the chains for their and our safety but ultimately I learned it’s just better to see animals in the safari in their natural habitat. I really just hope the elephants are treated well but after going I have no faith in ANY of these orphanages ;(
Written January 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your feedback, We are sorry your visit was not satisfactory, we value your comments and are forever trying to improve our services and educate our guests on who we are and what we do. We apologize sincerely that some of your concerns were not addressed whilst on site, we have a large volunteer team and 10 tour guides working daily who would have been more than happy to answer your questions As we are a charity foundation, your admission fee goes much further than covering the cost of your visit. Your money makes a huge difference to our elephants by helping to fund part of their care, medical treatments, food, mahout salaries and our on-call mobile veterinary unit. We do really appreciate your support. Just to clarify a couple of your concerns that unfortunately were not explained to you during your visit, The Ankus Elephants have pressure spots all over their bodies, the ankus ‘stick’ is used by the Mahout to guide and control the elephant. The ankus is used to press Nila points (pressure points) on the Elephants body so we can safely guide and control the elephants should a dangerous situation occur. Our onsite museum has an educational board which explains the use of the ankus within the sanctuary and why it is used across the world. One of our highly trained staff would have talked you through it should you have asked. Welfare of elephants - riding elephants Elephant rides have helped support this foundation for the last 40 years but we are making positive steps to abolish this all together. We actively promote and encourage our elephant walk experience to all of our visitors; with the elephant walk you are able to have 1 to 1 experiences with these amazing creatures, along with walking and bathing them. Whilst we are in the process of abolishing the bare back elephant riding, we continue to actively promote and encourage the elephant walk experience to all visitors to reduce the amount of rides. We cannot just abolish tourism as then we will have no funding to keep our elephants here Workers looking for a tip We have a policy that visitors should not be asked for tips and apologize if you were asked on your visit. We like to provide our staff at the sanctuary with your feedback so that we can improve our services. We’d appreciate it if you could send us details of what you experienced to - millenniumelephantfoundation@gmail.com We couldn't agree more that the best place to see Elephants are in the wild, but we do not have wild Elephants we have domesticated Elephants and are a foundation trying our best to improve the welfare of the Elephants by removing them from chains, (we now have 7 out of 10) chain free, allowing them free roaming and social time, providing them with all the food, water, exorcise, medical treatment they need as well as rescuing them from much worse off situations such as howdah tourism, logging, or living in solitude outside a temple in the city. We are not perfect , but we do our very best with the cultural, traditional and financial barriers we face We hope this clears up your concerns Thanks so much for your feedback Kindest Regards The MEF Team
Written March 25, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Raj
Horampalla, Sri Lanka10 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Couples
Today January 1st of 2020 i have come with my clients around 3:30pm. Unfortunately no one wants to give there service for my clients coz they purchased the secondary ticket of
Rs.2000. The staff will give their service only for 1st grave ticket holders. If your client purchased a lower price ticket you have to observe the place by your own, unless if you don't fight with them to have a guide. So it's good to avoid this place and go for a new places around it
Written January 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
We are sorry that you feel that prices were too high for your visit. As we are a charity foundation, your admission fee goes much further than covering the cost of your visit. Your money makes a huge difference to our elephants by helping to fund part of their care, medical treatments, food, mahout salaries and our on-call mobile veterinary unit. We do really appreciate your support. We’re sorry that you did not receive the customer service levels that you expected of us. We like to provide our staff with feedback on our service so that we can improve. We’d appreciate it if you could send us details of what you experienced to - millenniumelephantfoundation@gmail.com
Written March 25, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Aman B
3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021 • Couples
Our experience here was awful! Avoid at all costs and go to the government run Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala instead. The MEF is a money making experience. They do not care for the elephants. There were only 3 at the park, one of which they had tied with chains as he was feeling ‘stressed’. This is not putting elephant welfare first!
We had paid 6,600LKR to bathe, feed and ride an elephant. We were rushed by our tour guide, only to spend less than a minute bathing the elephant, did not allow us to stay to take photos so he could rush us to the next part which was feeding. He shouted at my wife to say ‘do you not know how to feed’. If I could rate this as a zero star I would. AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!!!
Written December 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Aparajita G
Ella, Sri Lanka77 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Couples
This place felt like a very big tourist trap and the care they boast of in their printed material dis not come across in the behavior of the mahouts and personnel in the grounds. Even though we paid at the entrance for the activities, we were hounded by the mahouts and personnel for more tips. When we refused, they just left us alone to navigate further activities on our own. We were supposed to have a guided tour of the museum, but no one came to explain it to us after we didnt pay a tip. During the elephant bathing, the elephant tried to get up and the mahout hit it with a spear to keep it in position for us. This really felt terrible especially since he kept yelling at the elephant while spearing it.

Im sure the rescue work done for these elephants by MEF is great and commendable, but that did not come through in our experience.
Written January 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
We are sincerely sorry you misunderstood the work of the mahouts and the foundation Just to educate and clarify a few things that were not explained to you during your visit (we are sincerely sorry one of our tour guides did not share this information with you) Elephants have pressure spots all over their bodies, the ankus ‘stick’ is used by the Mahout to guide and control the elephant. The ankus is used to press Nila points (pressure points) on the Elephants body so we can safely guide and control the elephants should a dangerous situation occur. Our onsite museum has an educational board which explains the use of the ankus within the sanctuary and why it is used across the world. One of our highly trained staff would have talked you through it should you have asked. We have a policy that visitors should not be asked for tips and apologize if you were asked on your visit and that you did not receive the customer service levels that you expected of us. We like to provide our staff at the sanctuary with your feedback so that we can improve our services. We’d appreciate it if you could send us details of what you experienced to - millenniumelephantfoundation@gmail.com Kindest Regards The MEF Team
Written March 31, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Getaway207620
3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2019
I choose to visit here to get up close to these magnificent animals, as they offer a much kinder alternative experience to walk with an elephant, rather than ride them (which I didn't want to do after hearing about the damage it does to them).

They do still allow people to ride, (due to tourist demand & the need to generate funds), however only a blanket is used without a girth & rides are very short.

The elephants do have chains on their feet, but these are affixed via a D ring collar for better comfort & are needed for control...just in case.

The whole experience was really lovely & I felt at ease with my guide in knowing what he was doing & was not at all rushed.

There were quite a few students on their gap year, preparing diet supplerments & ensuring clean bedding who were happy to talk about the overall care of the elephants.

I really felt that they do have the elephants best interests at heart & as there is high tourist demand for elephant rides, I would encourage people to research attractions offering elephant experiences & not to ride the elephants...but opt for the walking experience instead which is really up close & personal with these beautiful elephants....

Written April 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for choosing The Elephant Walk Experience We are so pleased you enjoyed your visit Thank you so much for taking the time to write us a review
Written April 13, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Stuart W
Battle, UK1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
So pleased we visited & enjoyed walking, feeding, & bathing Monika on March 6th 2020. Thanks to Jes and Monika's mahout who both did a great job. We highly recommend a visit to anyone who wants to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. The photos and memories are wonderful. Well done to everyone!
Written March 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
So please you enjoyed the Elephant walk experience, thank you so very much for choosing this option, Monika really is an absolute sweetheart isn't she Thanks you for taking the time to write us a review, we really appreciate the feedback Kindest Regards The MEF Team
Written April 13, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Carys
Carmarthen, UK27 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2022 • Couples
We came here as part of our Jetwing Travels package and had been really looking forward to it. When we got there we were allowed to bathe an elephant for 1 minute and then that was it !!!! We had been looking forward to feeding or walking with the elephants but this didn’t seem to be an option. Staff were unhelpful.

In terms of the animal welfare - this is the modern day equivalent of a working elephant. Elephants are forced to repeat monotonous tasks like being bathed / ridden for the enjoyment of tourists. We noticed a few were in chains also.

The mahouts (elephant carers) were the worst part. They scream aggressive commands at the elephants and if they don’t comply, they are prodded and jabbed with a metal stick. They definitely did not look qualified to be caring for elephants. They also demanded tips whenever anybody wanted a photo!!! (Despite everyone paying an entrance fee)

Luckily, our tour guide had arranged for us to do an elephant safari a few days before and that was AMAAAZING. If you want to experience a real connection with the animal do it in their natural habitat… not in a fake “sanctuary”.
Written March 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Helen
3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
I went with a friend who lives in Sri Lanka, this was a special occassion. I felt confident that the elephants were well looked after and their welfare was upmost. We were given a really interesting talk from our guide and (as long as I am not tested) I think I know the difference between an African and Indian Elephant ;-) We went for a walk with, and were able to handfeed, him and I went in the water to wash him at the end. This was the first time I have been so close to such a large and magestic animal, I am definately going back. We stayed for lunch which was lovely. I am looking into ways to go and volunteer, oh and I am not young. Very impressed and thank you to Jade, Podi and the rest of the team, espicially our Elephant, whose names I cannot remember . I hope to see you again and I am pleased to say I found you on Facebook xxxxx
Written February 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your kind words and thank you so much for choosing the Elephant Walk Experience, we are so pleased you had such a great visit and are looking forward to your return in the future as a volunteer. Thanks for sharing yoru experience with future visitors, this is a huge huge help for us Kind Regards The MEF Team
Written March 25, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

FewReviews
Bristol4 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022 • Solo
Amazing seeing elephants up close, and the member of staff who greeted us was friendly. But the whole place felt like profit machine. The two elephants we saw were chained up and the one we met was pacing up and down a small area to give rides and be washed. We were only there half hour and in the company of an elephant for 10-15 mins. And the handler requested a tip almost before our visit was over.

If it wasn’t part of a pre-arranged tour we wouldn’t have visited. It felt uncomfortable and having been on a safari the day before to see elephants in the wild it was an awkward experience.

The elephants are tame so perhaps can’t be reintroduced to the wild but using them as an attraction isn’t fair. I can’t comment on their treatment outside of their daily duties but a large controlled area where they can live as if wild would be much, much better.
Written May 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MIRA
Doha, Qatar157 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022 • Family
We visited this place and got in love with elephants even more then before. Definitely once you in Sri Lanka you have to try this out. In this foundation you can learn a bit about types of elephants, feed them, wash them, take an elephant's shower, walk and ride. We don't usually ride them, but walk next through their territory in their natural area was pleasant. Those giants are super friendly. After walk we washed him in the river and its look so cute brings a lot of positive emotions and energy. We spend around 1 - 1.5 hour there. If you would like to wash them and had shower from trumpet I would advise to bring additional clothes to change after. We paid 15K rupees for 2 adults and 2 kids. Definitely worth it
Written May 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 1,004
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Millennium Elephant Foundation - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Frequently Asked Questions about Millennium Elephant Foundation



All things to do in Kegalle
Day Trips in Kegalle
RestaurantsFlightsVacation RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars