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“Good but ethically questionable !?”

Millennium Elephant Foundation
Ranked #2 of 5 things to do in Kegalle
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: 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
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
94 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Good but ethically questionable !?”
Reviewed April 13, 2013 via mobile

I visited here after reading bad reviews of the Pinnewalla Orphanage.

On arrival I felt happy with my choice as it felt smaller (only 8 elephants) and less touristy / busy. But as the trip continued I did start to question whether it was ethically right and at times felt uncomfortable and like they were exploiting the animals for money rather than genuinely interested in their welfare.

I understand the elephants were rescued and are not able to return to the wild but one was bred in captivity which made me think whether the original objectives have changed!? Volunteers are clearly gap year students rather than experienced veterinary or welfare people.

As per previous comments I also experienced the disappointment with tips but I guess despite all the questions and emotional ups and downs it is a one in a life time experience.

Washing them in the river was great and clearly something they enjoy, however not sure about the ride as this feels like something more circus like - I read on the website they do quite a few per day.

I guess for me I was quite emotionally torn during the whole experience. Enjoyable vs Guilt ridden - 30 mins was enough otherwise i'd have thought too long and hard about it. Overall it's up to individuals to decide and make their own options so go with an open mind and just do what makes you feel comfortable.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
Thank Clairesmithlondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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England
Level 6 Contributor
423 reviews
148 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 214 helpful votes
“Good view of the elephants but little to do here apart from ride and feed”
Reviewed April 5, 2013 via mobile

We chose this elephant park as two of our friends wanted to ride the elephants bare back which they did and enjoyed. However other than riding there is little to do here. Me and my partner who were not riding paid to feed the elephant but felt the staff were rude and expected more tip than we gave even tho they did very little! Can only kill around an half hour here.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank stokie_gem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level 6 Contributor
73 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Uncomfortable”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

We had a very packed schedule in Sri Lanka in eleven days and our first stop after flying into Colombo was the Millennium Elephant Foundation. I had already read bad things about Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage so decided to give that a miss and was expecting more from this place as it was supposed to be a sanctuary. That's not what I would call it. This was a bad start to our Sri Lankan experience and thankfully, it transpired to be the worst. Our trip picked up considerably after leaving.

Our driver/guide arranged the entrance for us and inside we were immediately met by a guy who directed us to the river to wash one of the elephants for a few minutes before being directed to mount the elephant and then taken for a quick five minute stroll before being directed to get off again. The mahout then demanded a tip, I gave him a tip and he asked for more and he and one other guy were clearly not happy about the size of the tip I left. I increased it, they still looked unhappy and asked for more. This was the only time in Sri Lanka that I experienced anything like this. It's true that most people expect tips for service but the crucial difference is that most of the time they don't demand it, they actually provide some service first and finally are grateful when you do tip. That wasn't the case here.

Afterwards we were shown around the 'museum' which essentially is a room under a mud hut with a few bones (which felt inappropriate for a sanctuary) and some pictures and then the guy who shows you around the museum expects a tip as well. We didn't give him one, he looked very offended. The whole thing lasted ten minutes and was all a bit forced. Stand here, hold that, do this, now pay me. I can't say I enjoyed it at all and it was all over within ten minutes. No time or freedom to stroll around or take our own pictures.

Later on our Sri Lanka trip we went on an elephant trek in Habarana which was brilliant and a safari at Eco Park. My advice, skip past this place.

Visited March 2013
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4 Thank The-Rapture
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Once in a lifetime experience”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

We were going to go to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage but had heard bad reports so we decided to come here instead. What a great decision. For only 2000 rupees(approx £10) you get to wash, ride and feed the elephants ( fruit basket 200 rupees extra). You also get a mini tour round the museum which is very interesting. All in all an excellent experience which was well worth the 8 hour round trip.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank DubaiWhite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Medway
Level 6 Contributor
114 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
Reviewed April 1, 2013

We took a cab an hour and a half out of Kandy to visit this place.
You get a choice of 3 prices which dictates how long you get to ride an elephant. We chose the cheapest 2000 rup for a 15 minute ride, which was literally 100 yards and more like 5 minutes, then the mahoot asked for a tip.
We washed an elephant in the river for a couple of minutes and were hassled for another tip. You can look around the 'museum', in 5 minutes, although it does contain some interesting facts and stories about how some of the elephants came to be there.
All in all I came away thoroughly disappointed, I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe a bit more natural interaction, I wasn't hoping for a theme park or anything, they seem to have a good ethic towards the animals, but it was all a bit rushed and disorganised.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank Delfusilage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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