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“An Elephant Sanctuary - Misunderstood by some!”

Millennium Elephant Foundation
Ranked #2 of 5 things to do in Kegalle
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
37 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“An Elephant Sanctuary - Misunderstood by some!”
Reviewed January 30, 2014 via mobile

This place IS a sanctuary for elephants!

I am a regular animal loving Australian who came here to volunteer for a week. I saw a lot of amazing things and certainly NO animal cruelty, or I (and the other international volunteers) would not have stayed!

MEF is a charity who rescues elephants from an otherwise awful life in the logging industry, standing outside temples all day dehydrating or in the tourism industry where they are made to wear a Howder so that they can pack on as many people as possible (side note - a howder is a wooden bench/seat that gives elephants terrible health problems. Riding an elephant with a howder is nothing short of cruelty!)

MEF doesn't own most of their elephants and has to "rent" them from their owners, for a higher price than they would otherwise get logging, etc. This is all in order to give them a better life. Many of these elephants come with past injuries, both physical and psychological. Yes, they are chained, especially around tourists, but what do you expect when you are dealing with a potentially dangerous animal that has been taken from the wild and tortured (by humans), before being rescued by MEF!?
In additon, MEF runs a number of programs with the local community as well as a program with villages living near wild elephant populations - a whole nother story.

This all costs money and MEF gets no significant grants from either the public or private sectors. For this reason, MEF has opened their sanctury to tourists. Visitors should feel happy to know that their entrance fees have gone to a good cause, rather than to making someone rich!

Unfortunately MEF does not currently do a great job of conveying some of these points, which is not helped by all the tuk tuk and other drivers who are trying to get their passengers in and out as quick as possible so that they can move on to their next commission earning venture!

Captive elephants are far from an ideal situation, but the reality is that none of these elephants can ever be released back into the wild. Thanks to MEF, these beautiful creatures can at least live the best life possible in Sri Lanka!

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
20 Thank LivingTheDream_KN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Pundaluoya, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Pity for the Elephant, driver only interested in tips...”
Reviewed January 28, 2014

Globally I was quite disappointed of the visit, I prebooked for a medium ride, we only had 15 min of a ride because this is a package... Ok why not, but how long are riding the people who take a short ride? 5 min?
Second, your elephant guide (or mabout) was not at all polite, not even a "hello" when we arrived. No explanation of your structure and the way of managing the elephant... but at the end he is here to ask for some tips !
Really, if it is the way of thinking of your staff, only getting tips, I think you should review their real motivations...

I am sorry to tell that and I hope this was just the guide we had who behaves like that because I won't advise your place to anybody regarding what we experienced there... Nothing exceptional...

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank CamilleDru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“AVOID. THIS IS CRUELTY TO ELEPHANT'S AND A RIP OFF!”
Reviewed January 26, 2014

We were advised to go to the M E F by our Red Dot tour guide, paid an extortionate entrance fee to find a few elephants chained to the ground.
The elephants were showing signs of madness by their repetitive actions and were without any contact with another elephant..
The Manhouts (Circus trainers) carried large poles with a sharp metal point one end and a sharp metal hook at the other end, I will leave the rest to your imagination!
This place needs to be shut down.
All the staff were begging for tips. The toilet facilities and the entire site was filthy and should be closed down.
Please DO NOT make the same mistake as us in January 2014.
DO not support this wicked place.Please God free these poor elephant's.
I hope the operators of this obscene place go to Hell!.

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Rob W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
48 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Playing with Elephants”
Reviewed January 24, 2014

We had heard some bad reviews about this place, we planned on going to Pinnawala but when we arrived it was packed full of people and was very expansive. Everything cost extra. Our driver suggested this place but we said "no", after seeing Pinnawala we decided to go back. We had a great time for 2000 rupees we got to ride an elephant, bathe and elephant and the the elephant go to give us a shower :-) This place was nice, they had a small museum with information about elephants. I would say the only part we didn't like is that the elephants had chains on them. The guide was funny and took all our pictures and videos. The man that was in charge of the elephant was also good, he didn't say much but was attentive to our needs. Also expect the wrangler to ask for a tip, we gave him 500 rupees seeing our ride was a little longer than 15 minutes.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank MNMTravelers714
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jersey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Pachyderm heaven!!”
Reviewed January 24, 2014

This was the only trip I’d pre-booked before leaving the UK, as you get a 15% discount for booking online. As I’m absolutely elephant mad, we went for the most expensive option, being a ½ hour elephant ride, bath the elephant in the river and then an elephant shower all for just 5,000 rupees (about £25) for 2 of us.

We’d brought old clothes with us and had the opportunity to change in the toilets after our soaking!!

I was in absolute heaven and would love to visit again next time we’re in Sri Lanka. :-)

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Mel G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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