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!
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.