Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: Hours, Address, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Reviews: 3.5/5

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
3.5
Nature & Wildlife Areas
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8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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3.5
4,036 reviews
Excellent
1,166
Very good
1,195
Average
703
Poor
347
Terrible
626

Joshua D
United Kingdom3 contributions
A bit of a mixed review. I do agree with lots of the reviews here, its not an elephant orphanage, its a tourist attraction. Its clear the Elephants are trained , some of them are chained to rocks in order to tame them around people, we did see some not so nice treatment of elephants, which at times was uncomfortable. On the flip side to this, as someone who has never been close to Elephants before it was amazing to see so many in the river playing. It was definitely an experience and to be honest I don't regret going but Im not 100% sure if I would go again just because of the animal treatment. Also be aware - this is 100% a money making tourist attraction. We stayed in the hotel right on the water (thats another review in itself..) but when we arrived if we wanted to go to our hotel we had to pay an entry fee to the 'park' then if you want a photo or to touch or feed the elephants, its made out this is fine but you're then demanded to pay the staff , and they want more than you give them.

A tough one to review, as a brit it did seem a little odd and hard to tell what treatment the animals get, but it was an experience we wont forget - so I think you have to make your mind up based on the reviews.
Written July 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

LizzyLeeton
Leeton, Australia633 contributions
I'm not too sure what I thought about this place. The elephants have been 'rescued' and they appear happy enough but I had the vague feeling thye were like peforming elephants in a zoo. It is a geat expeirence to being down a thoroughfre and suddenly a small herd of elephants (with their handlers) wlk past you. It was great too to see them behaving quite natrally in the water. But there were some moments of disquiet. Some of the elephants are chained, and I accept and understand why, but it does leave an impression. A couple of the elephants are also forced to lie down in the water for the benefit of the crowd which I was not sure of either. Still, it was an experience althougha bit expensive, 3000 rupees per foreigner. If you want the experience of feeding a quiet elephant, you can also do that for 250 rupees. There are no elephant rides and I was pleased about that. Finally watch out for a scam with the mahouts (handlers). They will try to isolate you away from the crowd and lead you up into an area by yourself. They then offer to photograph you with an elephant by yourself but won't return your camera/iphone until you pay them money. I was offered this a couple of times but did not do it. I did see a family forking out a few thousand rupees to one of them so watch out for it.
Written March 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear visitor, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for taking the time out to give us this detailed feedback. While we appreciate your comment, would like to clear your vague areas of your visit with us. Firstly, please note, as you said, our ultimate effort is protecting these orphan elephants who were stranded in the wild for many reasons and give them a happy and comfort environment in this facility. Our institution does not put elephants on display; like animals are displayed in zoos and their daily routine also focuses their well being. Especially, bathing event has designed to fulfill their water requirement and enhance the physical fitness of the elephants. They are headed to water to twice a day in the river Ma- Oya where some distance of the premises and it gives additional benefit to enhance their physical fitness by walking. Jumbo bathing event also there for focusing wellbeing and it enhances interrelationship between elephant and human. Further, in here we are thankful for your correct understanding about the managing certain bull elephants by using chains and you are true that visitors have an opportunity to feed the elephants with an Rs.250.00 worth fruit basket. However, as a fully government institution our, finance ministry decides the entry fees for government institutions. Therefore, we are not in a position to change it. In addition, we do not offer to the visitors elephant rides or performances and we have allowed to live as naturally as possible in the facility. At the same time, we sincerely apologize for the unwelcoming experience you had with us during in photography and we will certainly consider it, along with responsible administrative staff. Once again, thank you very much for visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and share the issues with us. We welcome you back to Pinnawla Elephant Orphanage in the future. From, PEO Team.
Written March 18, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

robiwatts
Seaford, UK552 contributions
Couples
I was initially worried about going to this place. A lot of reports talk about the elephants being chained up which seriously could prevent any form of enjoyment. We did not actually go into the actual orphanage but merely paid (the full admission price) and watched them crossing the road and bathing at the bottom. Yes, the bull elephants were chained I guess for their and my safety. These were big animals that you would not wish to charge you. The younger and better behaved marched down the road and seemed well looked after and showed no discomfort that I could see. Ok far better that they are free totally in the wild and this would really be the way I would like to see them. They seemed to enjoy their trip and bathe and we did not see any rough handling by any of the Mahoots . All in all a wonderful morning. I would return if I ever get back to Sri Lanka.
Written April 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear visitor, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for taking time to write us and sharing your experiences following your visit. We are sorry about not attending the institution. However, we highly appreciate seeing how our institution works for the animals and giving an important and accurate interpretation of it. As you mentioned in your review, certain bull elephants are chained to provide protection for the other elephants as well as visitors. It is important your understanding that elephants are extremely powerful animals many times the size of humans. Thus, it is not an easy task to control such large creatures in the facility. However, our mahouts look after them in the best possible way. Further, as a dedicated institution for the elephant welfare, we bare a huge cost for their welfare specially their food, medicine and all the facilities of them. We provide utmost comfort for them and we are striving here to protect this endangered species for ensuring future existence. Next time we invite you to visit the institutions and we welcome you for a more memorable stay. Thank you. From PEO Team.
Written May 15, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lilja
1 contribution
!DO NOT GO THERE, IT'S A TOURIST SCAM!

We were dropped here by our driver (TripAdvisor's day trip to Kandy) but the place was everything else than what we expected and hoped. We were told to go visit the elephant orphanage but what we saw was a shady business that scams unaware tourists. The place was called Maharaja elephant village but there's no information about it in internet but it's located also in Kegalle so I figured it out it's connected with this "orphanage". Someone said they rent elephants from there to offer riding for tourist.

We wanted just to see the elephants, take some pictures and maybe feed them. We bought the cheapest tickets, which were not cheap at all! In euros around 35€ head! They offered also 1 km and 500 m rides but we were just interested to see them. As soon as we stepped in we saw three elephants in captivity, chains in their feet. Myself and my boyfriend were put to sit on top of one and walked a short loop. During it we felt really bad because the guy walking the elephant was yelling and threatening the elephant with a sharp arm. They would have wanted to take us to the river for the bath but we refused because of feeling that awful for the animal. Other man had my boyfriend's phone all the time and was taking pictures of us. After the riding this man started to insist money for the pictures he had taken. After giving some for him because of the stressful situation he even ask us to give more money to the guy walking the elephant. We said we didn't have more money and they seemed really unhappy because of this. We got to feed the elephant some bananas but then we were quickly pushed to leave the area. All this happened in about 10 minutes. I tried to ask questions about the elephants but the man didn't really say much.

We left the place really upset and feeling sorry for the elephants after everything we saw and experienced. If only people knew what kind of place this is, the abuse of the innocent animals could be maybe avoided.
Written March 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Lilja, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! “Maharaja Elephant village”, the place you mentioned, is not Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (PEO), and it is a private organization. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a government institute under the National Zoological Gardens and our main purpose is conservation and breeding of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus maximus), providing care and shelter to orphaned elephants that were stranded in the wild due to many reasons. We never perform any riding for visitors and we are highly concerned about their utmost comfort in the facility. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage receives orphan calves of various ages from the wild. Then they are fully integrated into the PEO herd, which is led by an adult female (matriarch). The elephants of PEO are not fully tamed or trained; they are kept in semi-wild conditions, and they cannot be ridden, nor can they be made to work, but the elephant keepers (mahouts) can lead them to the river Ma Oya for bathing, the free-roaming area for feeding, or tether them at their assigned places in elephant sheds in the evening. Therefore, we welcome you next time to the PEO for a more memorable stay. Have a nice day! Thank you From PEO Team
Written March 18, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Bhaskar_10
New Delhi, India2,497 contributions
Visited on 17th Feb 2020

Entry Fee : SLR 800/- per Adult and SLR 400/- per Child of SAARC countries
Timing : 8.30am till 5.30pm (ticket window closes)

Ideal time to visit are 10.00am or 2.00pm respectively when the Elephant herds are taken for bathing to the river in batches, and 12.00noon or 4.00pm when teh elephant herds are brought back after bathing.

We got a chance to see the Elephant herds being brought back from bathing and the walking of the herd in the sandy path is amazing.

Watch towers and pathways are created in the venue for proper movements of the tourists. Also few installations and information boards are provided to inform all about the history of the place and its evolution through years. It also talks about the mahouts or elephant keepers and tools used by them to control the pachyderms.

Duration of visit will be about 1 hour.
Laksala and souvenir shop is available at this attraction. Outside the attraction there are few small shops selling fresh cut fruits and cold drinks and snacks.

It can be hot on sunny day so please carry umbrella or caps.

Go and Enjoy!
Written March 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear visitor, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and your descriptive feedback. We are so pleased to hear that you were satisfied with the visit and it will definitely help the visitors who always find the new destinations around the world. As you said, entry fees for the SARRC countries are available at that price in the premises and elephant bathing wonderful scenery can see as you mentioned time at the riverside. We are truly grateful for your lovely feedback and perfect rating. We welcome you once again for those memorable experiences at PEO and have a nice day! From, PEO Team.
Written May 15, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Vinod M
Mumbai, India211 contributions
we were expecting to give the elephant a bath and give some food to elephants.
but we were left disappointed.
we were taken around the orphanage where the orphan elephants are kept.
then on the other side of the road,our guide took us to see elephants being given a bath and fed.

but over there,the people started asking money if we wanted to feed guava fruits to the elephants.or even to give bath,they were charging money.

we neither gave bath to the elephant,nor we fed the elephant.

we thought it was part of the ticket which we had purchased.

overall my kids were left very disappointed.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Vinod M, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for taking time and sharing your experience with us on tripadvisior. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us as we strive to improve with each and every visit. Firstly we are sad to know that you were disappointed with your resent visit at PEO. Actually, here we have designed both fruit feeding and jumbo bathing event to the visitors who love to have those wonderful experiences. Fruit feeding event starts at 09.00 a.m. at park number 03 in the premises and it functions until the end of the amount of fruits required for elephants per day. The price of one fruit basket per elephant is Rs.250.00 and we issue a valid ticket for it. Further, it should be mentioned that our nutrition section assures the quality of their fruits and only recommended fruits are given for the elephants at the premises. Jumbo bathing event also functions at 10.15 a.m. to 11.45 & 2.15. to 3.45 in the river and tickets for that event are available at the ticket counter for Rs.750.00. These activities are based on elephant’s welfare and we always strive to keep them safe and best possible comfort in the facility. In addition, all the revenue generated are for the welfare and upliftment of the elephants and please note that entry tickets are not valid for these activities. Therefore, those who wish to participate these activities at the PEO, have to pay extra money. So, we cordially welcome you back to the PEO for have these wonderful experience and we wish you best of luck. Thank you. From, PEO Team.
Written February 12, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

daniela
Munich, Germany7 contributions
I was more than shocked. On the one hand we only wanted to watch the animals bathing and we were told that we need a ticket for 3000 LKR each (there is a ticket office for tourists and locals. I doubt that they are the same prices) which is not correct. You can just walk down to the river between 10am and 12pm or 2pm and 4 pm and watch the elephants bathing. You need the ticket to see the "orphanage", which was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. The animals have far too little space and no things to play with.
When we asked why two elephants were chained and kept circling their heads, we were told "their will first has to be broken".
There was also an enclosure with 3 baby elephants inside, which were made to pose for photos. There were men standing in front of it offering to take photos of us and the elephants. However, this is not a nice gesture (even if the locals are otherwise very nice and helpful), but afterwards the hand is held out again for money.

Also the small elephants which are "rescued" are not let back into freedom. Once an elephant is in Pinnawala, it never leaves again. Some of the elephants were chained to the river and many men with very sharp sticks were also on guard. Of course: safety is a must. But I didnt have a good feeling.

Better to go to the Udawalawe National Park and see elephants without chains and men with pointed lances.

Later we also talked to a very good English speaking local, who told us that only a small part of the income goes to the animals
Written January 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Daniela, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! We thank you for your feedback and we feel sorry about your visit with us fell short expectation. Here, we hope to resolve the issues that you have raised on us. Firstly, please note this is a government institution in Sri Lanka and our financial ministry decides the entry fees for government institutions. Therefore, we are not in a position to change the entry fees at PEO and it is impossible to issue a separate ticket to visit only elephant bathing event at PEO too. In addition you have focused on your review that the elephants in here are not having anything to play with and here it needs to explain their facilities which we have established for them. Especially elephants have reserved around 14 acres at the premises to roam and play with each other and it has established mud and sand pits to wallow mud and sand, as they are fond of play with mud and sand materials. In addition, they have a great opportunity to have a fun in the water at riverside while fulfilling their daily water requirement. Actually, we have given top priority to provide mental stimulation through enrichment activities in the facility. Further, the tree enclosures that you have mentioned on your review are providing shelter to the orphan elephants who are suffering from multiple type of health condition in the facility and they are getting quick attention every time from our veterinary doctors at PEO. In addition, there are some orphan bull elephants and older elephants who spend their saddle season leisurely. Further, it is a complex process to reintroduce captive elephants back to the wild and it might increase the human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka too. However, we are currently experimenting with it. Chaining and using bull hooks for some elephants in the facility are for some inevitable and multiple reasons. Especially the uncontrolled bulls with violent behaviors, elephants under veterinary treatments, elephants in their musths period are the compulsory situations of chaining elephants at PEO and now it is happy to inform you that currently we are working towards to avoid the chaining at the those situations too at PEO. Ongoing project at PEO called “Chain free born free” is a massive step against the chains and in future, you can experience its success at PEO definitely. Finally, it should be noted, our conservation purpose is different from national park’s conservation methods and we are under the ex-situ conservation. Further as a fully government institute all the revenue generated will be deposited in government accounts and our government spend a huge cost to maintain them in the facility. you may be know that even feeding for an elephant is very costly and it’s close to Rs. 10000.00 per day. We facilitate everything what they need in the facility and we hope that you will understand our efforts at PEO to conserve these magnificent species for the future existence. We welcome you back to the PEO again. Thank you. From PEO Team.
Written January 22, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ashbash
London, UK80 contributions
Couples
Well arrived at around 1430 hours, just to be told as the Grand hotel which we were booked in, cant be accessed until 1600 hours, as the elephants are still out there, we must pay an entry, or wait till 4pm, although check in starts at 3pm, what a drama, so are in a local restaurant which was incidentally amazing, later meeting another tourist from uk, we sat down had few cups of tea, but we were virtually the only ones there, progressing to dinner, which were not so good, it was like the taste ran away from the food in boardum.

tomorrow we will see the elephants,
so it was amazing seeing the elephants, they are literally walked passed the road which is in front of our hotel, the sight is amazing, I had a clear shot of it, until some t*** moved into my shot, thanks mann!! I cursed at him with outrage, but clearly whilst having a ignorant mannerism, he also had a lack of understanding of simple english too, never mind.
the elephants were amazing to look at bathing themselves, putting dry soil all over them using their trunks, then they roll around in the water to wash off.
some of the elephants were chained up and separated from the the rest, in observation, I could only see the older problematic and younger rascal are chained and separated, presuming to prevent them from harm.
the journey was amazing shame we had to leave, then again the hotel was not very welcoming the food was absolutely rubbish a lot of improvement nee

Written February 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Visitor, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephanat Orphanage! Thank you very much for taking time to write us and sharing your lovely experience with our giants at the riverside. Firstly, we would like to address your matter regarding use of the road. Actually, Hotels in the area sharing the road to the riverside with rest of the community including animal’s walkway. When elephants are in the riverside, no vehicles are allowed to use the road. So all the visitors including foreigners have to walk in the road with a valid ticket from 8.30 am. To 4.00 pm. It also should be noted that we are a government institute under the Department of National Zoological Gardens and the surrounding hotels are owned by outside vendors. Then, we are pleased to know that you were enjoyed with our giants at the riverside and as you said, it is so fun to visit their behaviors when they are bathing mud and water. In addition, as you said certain elephants are in chains due to the uncontrolled and aggressive behaviors and thanks for understanding such situations. So, we hope your problems are clarified and look forward to visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage next time. Thank You. From PEO Team.
Written February 11, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

IndyyyE
Reading, UK9 contributions
Friends
Today we travelled a long way especially to visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and we were so disappointed. It was 3,000lhr to enter and we specifically went for 1pm as between 12pm-2pm that you can supposedly feed the elephants fruit and see milking time. We walked in and the place was deserted, there was no one to help direct you or advise you, only some signs. There were a few elephants you could see in a small grass area with a couple of trees which you could see from a viewing point at least 15 metres away from the elephants themselves. We moved along to another area where there were 6 males chained up to a tiny concrete area with nothing but a couple of coconuts on the floor and men clearing up the ground around them. They were clearly very distressed and not happy in their environment and it was extremely sad to see this especially as we had believed this was somewhere they look after the animals well. There was no elephants in the fruit feeding enclosure (we also saw this was an extra charge even if there was) all in all we were there for about 15 minutes before we decided we should leave. If you love animals and want to see elephants being treated well in a safe environment do not bother wasting your time.
Written January 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Indyy, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and writing your feedback on tripadvisor. It is deeply distressed to learn your visit us fell short expectation and you are true that our entrance fee is 3000.00 at PEO. Fruit feeding event at PEO starts at 9.45 a.m. and it functions till the end of the amount of fruits required for elephants per day. Actually, milk-feeding event has been temporally stopped at PEO and we are currently working towards to give that lovely experience to you again at PEO. In addition, we have erected direction boards to make you aware about the sight at PEO and please be kind enough to fallow those signs. Our main herd between 1.00 p.m to 2.00 p.m is at the free roaming area and orphan certain elephants who cannot go to the river with multiple health conditions are under the enclosures at that time. Further, as a dedicated institute for elephant conservation In Sri Lanka, we daily focus an attention to their mental and physical health conditions and it has established many enrichment activities for their mental stimulation. They are spending most of the daytime in free roaming area interacting with each other and they exhibit their social behaviors like wild elephants. Mud and sand pits are there to wallow mud and sand as they are fond of having them and they are headed to water twice a time a day to full fill the daily water requirement and have a fun in the water. We are an institute that work for their welfare and we assure you it. We welcome you back to the PEO again. Thank you. From, PEO Team
Written January 22, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ayesha Imalki
Matugama, Sri Lanka5 contributions
Family
Pinnawala is an area located in the town of Rambukkana in the Kegalle District of Sri Lanka. Pinnawala is one of the major tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is the only one in the world and the largest and only outdoor zoo in Sri Lanka. I would love to see the amazing activities of the elephants there.
Written January 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Ayesha, A fantastic day from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage! Thank you very much for visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and sending us your perfect ratings for us. We are so grateful for choosing this place as your favorite place and we look forward to the pleasure of welcoming you back to the PEO. Thank you PEO Team
Written February 3, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is open:
  • Sun - Sat 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM
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